MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team struck first this afternoon and piled on four runs in the middle innings to claim a 5-3 triumph over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Skyhawk Field.
Senior Ben Brewer went 3-for-3 with an RBI and a walk to lead UT Martin offensively, tying his career-high for hits that he set at Indiana State on Feb. 6, 2010. Phil Sorensen (two runs scored, one RBI) and Kenny King (one run, one RBI) also registered multi-hit outings today while Wade Collins and Nico Zych each scored a run. Matt Haynes drove in a run as well for the Skyhawks, who improve to 6-7 overall with a 1-0 OVC mark.
On the hill, senior right-hander Dan Tobik notched his first win of the season, allowing just one run on five hits over five innings. He fanned four batters and fired 51 of his 91 pitches for strikes. Junior relievers Chris Ross (2.2 innings, one hit) provided sound middle relief this afternoon, setting up Stu Jones (1.1 perfect innings) for his third save of the season.
Tobik pitched around trouble in the first to hang a zero on the scoreboard. He followed that with another scoreless frame in the second, allowing the Skyhawk offense to take an early 1-0 advantage in the bottom half of the inning.
Sorensen, King and Zych all singled to lead off the inning, loading the bases with no outs. Sorensen would later come around to score on a double play.
Back-to-back doubles by Jacksonville State evened the score at 1-1 in the third, but Tobik escaped a no-out, bases-loaded jam by inducing a forceout at home and back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
Tobik carried that momentum into the next inning, sitting down the Gamecocks in order on three groundouts to keep the score at 1-1.
UT Martin pushed across a pair of runs in the fourth to take a lead it would not relinquish. King was hit by a pitch, then advanced on an error when Zych tried to sacrifice him to second base. Matt Young sacrificed both King and Zych into scoring position, followed by a Haynes sacrifice fly out to center. Brewer then ripped the first pitch he saw down the right field line for a double to plate Zych and provide a 3-1 Skyhawk lead.
Tobik avoided trouble once again in the fifth, recording a double play and an inning-ending strikeout to qualify for the victory.
In the bottom of the fifth, Collins singled through the right side with one out to spark another UT Martin rally. Sorensen then guided an 0-1 pitch to left center for an opposite field double that scored Collins. After Sorensen swiped third base, King doubled him in with a shot out to left center to make the score 5-1.
Ross took over for Tobik and retired his eight of his first nine batters before Jacksonville State scored twice in the top of the eighth. Jones was brought in with the tying run at the plate in the eighth but he got out of the inning thanks to a fielder’s choice.
Jones then worked a perfect ninth inning, closing out the victory with a called third strike to punctuate the win.
Because of heavy rains in the forecast for Sunday, these two teams will round out the series with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 9. The first of two 9-inning games will start at 1 p.m.