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UNION CITY, Tenn. – The combination of Dalton Westfall and Shane Seckinger combined for 19 strikeouts, just two shy of the program record, as the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team notched their first win of 2017 in its 14-0 win over Buffalo.
The Skyhawks scored six runs in both the bottom of the third inning and bottom of the seventh to earn their biggest margin of victory since their drubbing of Eastern Kentucky (20-6) on April 8, 2016. Westfall finished the contest with 15 strikeouts, the most since 2003 and top five in program history, in seven scoreless innings as UT Martin cruised to victory.
“Westfall just set the tone from the very beginning,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “He just completely shut them down. That gave our offense a chance to relax and settle in and we were able to produce some big innings that made the difference in the game.”
Westfall hit Bulls leadoff hitter Phillip Tomasulo to start the game. The Buffalo right-fielder reached third base later in the inning before being stranded. He was the only Bulls baserunner to touch third base on the day. The Buckhannon, W.Va., native struck out the side in the second inning and was virtually unhittable from there.
The UT Martin offense took over the game in the third. The Skyhawks used a five-hit inning to claim the early 6-0 lead. Four different UT Martin hitters drove in runs, while Josh Hauser, Tanner Wessling, Dan Kerwin and Anthony Adduci all singled for the Skyhawks. Creighton Eldridge then roped a two-RBI double into left-center as UT Martin batted around.
The Bulls continued to be stymied by Westfall as the redshirt-junior mowed through the Buffalo lineup in the fourth and fifth innings. Ryan Helgren drove in Eldridge in the fifth with a single through the left side and Keylen Steen joined the offensive outburst with a shot to center field that resulted in a triple and run scored on a Buffalo error in the sixth to give UT Martin the 8-0 lead.
The final blows came in the seventh when the Skyhawks tacked on six more runs to give them the decisive 14-0 lead. After an Albright double and Helgren walk, Wessling laced a rope over Buffalo centerfielder Alex Thrower to drive in two more runs. The Kent, Wash. native finished the day 4-5 with 3 RBI’s. Freshman Connor Aube drove in two more runs later in the inning to give him his first RBI’s in the orange and blue. In total, UT Martin scored six runs on three hits in the inning.
Reliever Shane Seckinger closed out the eighth and ninth innings for the Skyhawks in his 2017 debut. The right-hander struck out four hitters in two innings of relief. Albright, Helgren, Wessling, Adduci and Aube all recorded multiple hits on the day.
UT Martin will look to keep the momentum going in the rubber match tomorrow. First pitch from Elam Stadium in Union City is slated for 12 p.m.