CARBONDALE, Ill. – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team battled throughout this afternoon at Southern Illinois but the Skyhawks couldn’t pull through in a 7-6 loss at Abe Martin Field.
UT Martin (10-26) struck first this afternoon, tallying three runs in the top of the first. Southern Illinois would then score seven runs over the first five innings but the Skyhawks scratched out three more runs in the top of the seventh to get within a single run. However, UT Martin could not push across another run in the eighth or ninth innings.
Offensively, the Skyhawks were led by Byron Johann’s two RBI’s and one run scored. Grant Glasser, Sonny Mastromatteo and Luis Paublini all scored once and tallied an RBI, while Matt Haynes (RBI) and Drew Erie (run scored) also heavily contributed to the UT Martin offensive attack.
On the mound, reliever John Skubina (1-1) tied a career-high with four innings pitched but was charged with the loss after allowing four earned runs. Junior right-hander John Houston pitched very well in relief, scattering three hits and fanning three while walking zero batters over four scoreless innings.
The first two batters of the game – Glasser and Mastromatteo – each drew six-pitch walks to lead off the game. Johann then lined a double to center field to score a pair and Haynes added to UT Martin’s run total with an RBI single to center to give the Skyhawks a 3-0 advantage.
However, the Salukis would get two runs back in the bottom of the first and add three runs in the second to go on top by a 5-3 margin.
After Skubina was responsible for a scoreless third inning, Southern Illinois came up with an unearned run in the fourth and another run in the fifth before Houston entered the game and halted a potential Saluki rally. The inning ended after a double play in which Houston registered a strikeout and Erie delivered a perfect throw to Haynes, catching a Saluki trying to steal third base.
After the Skyhawks threatened with a pair of hits in the sixth, UT Martin got back on the scoreboard with a crooked number in the top of the seventh. Zych led things off with a single and then stole second. Erie followed with a single and Paublini then singled through the left side, plating Zych. Pinch-hitter Taylor Cox then punched a single through the left side to load the bases for Glasser, who delivered the fifth straight single in the inning for UT Martin – scoring Erie. After a pitching change, Mastromatteo lifted a sacrifice fly out to center to make the score 8-7.
Houston did a masterful job of pitching around a leadoff double in the seventh, keeping the Salukis off the scoreboard. He then made short work of Southern Illinois in another shutout frame in the eighth.
The Skyhawks would put the tying run on base in the ninth thanks to a Mastromatteo single, but Southern Illinois closer Todd Eaton tallied his sixth save of the season.
After playing nearly two weeks’ worth of games on the road, UT Martin returns home this weekend to take on Ohio Valley Conference foe Morehead State on April 19-21.