BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team was a mere two outs away from its first victory of the 2014 season but the UAB Blazers rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the ninth to post a 3-2 win at Regions Field.
For the second consecutive day, the Skyhawks received an exceptional performance out of their starting pitcher. Junior Dalton Potts was masterful this afternoon, shutting out the Blazers for seven innings while conceding just four hits and one walk. The 6-0, 185-pound left-hander registered a career-high nine strikeouts and departed the game with a 2-0 lead.
The loss was charged to Stu Jones (1.1 innings, three runs allowed) while John Houston (0.1 innings, one hit, one walk allowed) also made his season debut today.
Fletcher Johnson and Phil Sorensen each had two hits to lead the Skyhawks, who outhit UAB by an 8-7 margin. Johnson and Isaac Carrel each drove in a run while Kenny King and Zack Malone both scored a run for UT Martin.
Cory Eller picked up the mound victory after tossing 1.1 perfect innings for UAB. Chase Davis was the hero for the Blazers in the bottom of the ninth, as his walkoff single plated Tyler Mims for the gamewinning run.
After UAB’s leadoff man was hit by a pitch, Potts settled down and retired the next seven batters until a one-out single in the third. However, that runner was erased on the next pitch, as Davis lined into a double play from Nico Zych to Sorensen.
Meanwhile, the Skyhawks got on the scoreboard for the first time in the series in the top of the second. King was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Sorensen followed with a single. Both runners moved up 90 feet after a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt off the bat of Zych. Carrel then tallied an RBI with a sacrifice fly out to right field that brought in King.
For a while, it seemed as if UT Martin’s one run would hold up. Potts kept the Blazers off the scoreboard after hitting a batter in the fourth and also posted another shutout frame after his catcher Mikey Nantze threw out a would-be basestealer to erase a leadoff single in the fifth.
The Skyhawks had three batters reach base safely in the sixth but could not build upon their 1-0 advantage. Potts then posted another zero on the scoreboard after pitching around a leadoff single in the sixth.
UT Martin pushed its lead out to 2-0 with a clutch hit in the top of the seventh. Malone smacked a one-out double to left field and would later advance to third on a passed ball. With two outs, Johnson singled to shortstop, bringing in Malone to give the Skyhawks a two-run cushion.
Potts began the seventh with a strikeout and recorded a popout to first base and a flyout to right field to keep the score at 2-0 after seven full frames.
The Skyhawks had a chance to break the game open in the top of the eighth, loading the bases with two outs. However, Eller escaped the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.
In the bottom of the eighth, Jones erased a leadoff walk with a 4-6-3 double play on the next pitch. He then allowed a single before retiring UAB’s most dangerous hitter in Ryan Prinzing.
Jones got the first out on one pitch in the ninth before the Blazers followed with a double and back-to-back batters who were hit by pitches. Houston then came out of the bullpen and the Blazers scored their first run on a four-pitch walk. Houston then induced a ground ball to third base but UAB tied the game at 2-all. With runners on second and third, Davis then poked a 1-1 pitch into right field for the game-winning hit.
The Skyhawks will look to salvage the final game of the series on Sunday, Feb. 16. First pitch from Regions Field is set for 1 p.m.