MARTIN, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team will look for their first victory of the 2013 season when it hosts the Southern Illinois Salukis out of the Missouri Valley Conference on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The home season opener for the Skyhawks will take place at 3 p.m.
These two squads split the season series in 2012, with each team claiming victories on its own home field. In the Skyhawks’ 9-4 victory over the Salukis on Feb. 21, Matt Haynes and Phil Sorensen each had three-hit games while Wade Collins cranked a three-run homer to pace UT Martin offensively. In the April 18 matchup in Carbondale, the Skyhawks led 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh before the Salukis claimed a 10-3 come-from-behind win.
The Skyhawks (0-3) are coming off a tough season-opening series loss at Southeastern Louisiana last weekend. Collins led the regulars with a .364 batting average (4-for-11), while Matt Haynes led the team with three RBI on the weekend. The UT Martin pitching staff posted a respectable 4.88 ERA for the weekend. Three Skyhawks combined to fan 10 batters on Sunday, capping off a nearly strikeout-per-inning ratio (23 in 24 innings) in the series against the Lions, who were receiving votes in a pair of national preseason polls.
Against the Salukis, junior right-hander John Houston (0-1, 7.71 ERA) will get the starting nod on the mound. Houston made a relief appearance last Saturday at Southeastern Louisiana, allowing two runs on four hits in 2.1 innings. The 6-4, 215-pound junior college transfer fanned three while not issuing a walk.
Southern Illinois (1-2) won its season opener 5-4 at UAB before narrowly falling 1-0 and 3-1 in the final two games of the set. This game begins a stretch of five straight games for the Salukis against Ohio Valley Conference members.
Junior catcher Matt Jones led the Southern Illinois offense with a .462 batting average (6-for-13) in three starts. Jake Welch and Ryan Rosthenhausler each accounted for a team-best two RBI in the season-opening series.
Junior right-hander Bryce Sablotny will make his first start of the season for the Salukis, whose bullpen did not allow a single earned run in 10 innings at UAB.