UNION CITY, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team used timely hitting and solid pitching to take down Arkansas-Pine Bluff 4-2 on Sunday afternoon to complete the three-game weekend series sweep. This sweep is the program’s first of the season and first since the Skyhawks’ three-game triumph over Jackson State April 22-24, 2016.
UT Martin used a four-run fourth inning to propel them to victory behind RBI’s from Ryan Helgren, Dan Kerwin and Anthony Adduci. It was the only inning in which the Skyhawks scored on the afternoon, but it was more than enough run support for the dynamic combination of starting pitcher Jake Patzner and reliever Alex Evans.
“Patzner really set the tone early on, striking out six and only allowing three hits,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “Evans came in and did what he always does. He was solid enough for us to win today and complete the sweep. I was very pleased with almost every aspect of the game this weekend and I thought our pitching and defense were really good. We still have some adjustments to make offensively, but I am very pleased with the weekend overall.”
The Golden Lions were first on the scoreboard as they loaded the bases in the top of the second with no one out. Patzner limited the damage however, only allowing one run to cross on a sacrifice fly. The DeSoto, Mo. native struck out the final two batters in the inning and stranded two UAPB runners.
The Skyhawks responded with four runs in the fourth in what was the decisive inning. Tyler Albright led off with a single up the middle. Helgren’s rope to left scored Albright all the way from first to give him his team-high sixth RBI and tie the game 1-1. Following a Tanner Wessling single, Kerwin smoked a double to right-center to drive in Helgren and give UT Martin the 2-1 lead. Wessling then scampered home on a wild pitch from Golden Lions starter Tyrus Lopez to put the Skyhawks up 3-1. The very next hitter, freshman Adduci bounced out to short but it was good enough to score UT Martin’s fourth and final run.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff was able to plate one more in the eighth as Jacob Giron and Aderly Perez pieced together basehits to tighten the gap to 4-2. However, Evans effectively navigated the rest of the UAPB lineup to close the door and give UT Martin their fifth consecutive victory.
Patzner (1-0) notched his first win of the season, while Evans (1) picked up his first save. Lopez (0-2) tossed seven innings and was saddled with the loss. The win marked the fifth straight contest in which the Skyhawk pitching staff recorded 10 or more strikeouts.
Wessling continued his hot start with a 3-3 performance to improve his batting average to a team-high .600. Albright’s single extended his hitting streak to six games, while his run scored extended his streak of scoring or driving in a run in every contest this season. UT Martin improves to 17-4 as a program against Southwestern Athletic Conference schools.
The Skyhawks will look to build on that record as they travel to Huntsville, Ala. on Wed., March 1 to take on SWAC opponent Alabama A&M. First pitch from Bulldog Baseball Field is set for 2 p.m.