BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team scored three runs in the sixth inning this afternoon but ultimately it wasn’t enough as the Skyhawks fell 5-3 to UAB at Regions Field.
Freshman Fletcher Johnson led the Skyhawks with his second straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored out of the leadoff slot. Taylor Douglas scored a run and tallied an RBI, while Jake Deason (run scored) and Nico Zych (RBI) also helped pace UT Martin offensively.
The Skyhawks (0-3) received quality pitching performances for the third time in as many games. Starting pitcher Alex Martin allowed only two earned runs over five frames while Carter Smith (one unearned run in 2.2 innings) and Chris Ross (0.1 perfect inning) also saw time on the hill this afternoon.
Jeff Schalk’s two RBI’s led UAB (3-0) while Alex Luna was credited with the victory after going five scoreless innings. Thomas Lowery earned his second save in the series with 1.1 shutout frames.
Martin needed just nine pitches to get through the first inning, pitching around a single to get an inning-ending ground ball double play. He once again made short work of the Blazers in the second, using only nine pitches to put up another zero on the scoreboard.
UAB took advantage of a pair of errors in the bottom of the third, as the Blazers accounted for two hits to go ahead by a 2-0 margin. Martin did a good job of minimizing the damage, getting out of the inning after UAB had already scored two runs and had two baserunners on with no outs.
Martin did another tremendous job working his way out of trouble in the fourth, as he stranded the bases loaded to keep the score at 2-0. The Blazers would add to their lead with a two-run home run in the fifth.
UT Martin answered right back with a big inning in the top of the sixth. After Luna was removed from the game, Fletcher’s one-out walk ignited the rally. Deason then drove a 1-0 pitch down the left field line for a double, putting a pair of runners in scoring position. Both runners would come around to score after Douglas reached on an error to cut the Skyhawk deficit in half. Douglas then stole second base and advanced to third on a grounder to the right side by Kenny King. Following a walk to Phil Sorensen with two outs, Zych delivered a clutch single that brought in Douglas and make the score 4-3.
UAB added an unearned run in the sixth but Smith kept the Blazers off the scoreboard in the seventh, turning an unusual double play when Smith threw a runner out at the plate on a comeback grounder and catcher Drew Erie fired a strike to second base to mow down the batter, who had elected to go for the extra base.
The Skyhawks had a chance to trim their deficit in the eighth but couldn’t push a run across. Sorensen ripped a two-out double to right center and Zych reached on an error to put men on the corners and bring the go-ahead runner to the dish. However, UAB was able to escape the jam.
After the Blazers put two baserunners on in the bottom of the eighth, Ross came in an needed just two pitches to get out of the inning and give the Skyhawks a chance in the ninth.
Erie drew a leadoff walk to start off a potential UT Martin rally in the final inning but the Skyhawks ultimately couldn’t get a man in scoring position.
UT Martin concludes its season-opening four-game road swing with a matchup at traditional Southeastern Conference power Ole Miss on Wednesday, Feb. 19. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.