GREENVILLE, SC – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team could not overcome early miscues as the Skyhawks suffered their second consecutive loss with an 11-3 setback to Furman on Saturday evening. UT Martin (5-3) surrendered five runs in the opening five innings to the Paladins and were never able to recover.
The Skyhawk ace Dalton Westfall took the mound for his third start of the season, as the 6-6 right-hander came into the contest ranked as the number one pitcher in all of Division-I baseball in strikeouts (27) and ERA (0.00). However, the Buckhannon, W.Va. native struggled in the early going with his command, walking four batters and throwing four wild pitches in two innings of work. Furman capitalized on the miscues and pushed across two runs in the first on an RBI-single from Landon Kay and a scored run on a wild pitch to put the Paladins in front 2-0. Furman tacked on another run in the second on an RBI-single from Jake Crawford.
Peyton Cain came on in relief of Westfall in the third and worked out of a bases loaded nobody-out jam. The junior from Hickory, Miss. fanned two straight Paladin hitters and forced a fly ball to centerfielder Creighton Eldridge to get the Skyhawks out of trouble.
Keylen Steen doubled to lead-off the fourth inning, before shortstop Josh Hauser singled him in to collect his third RBI on the year and trim the Paladin lead to 3-1. Tyler Albright extended his hitting streak to eight games on the very next at-bat, as the second baseman launched a double to deep right-center field to score Hauser. It was Albright’s team-leading seventh RBI of 2017.
However the Paladins responded with runs in three consecutive innings to separate them from the Skyhawks and put them out in front for good. Furman tallied two unearned runs in the fourth, along with a run in each the fifth and sixth innings to extend their lead to 7-2.
Furman used a big eighth inning to reach double-digits as the Paladins pushed across four runs on just one hit to extend the lead to 11-2. The Skyhawks responded with a run in the ninth, as JoJo Allen tallied his first career hit and then crossed the plate on a Jordan Lambert double. However, that was all the Skyhawk offense could manage as they fell to the Paladins 11-3.
Westfall (2-1) dropped his first decision of the season, while Furman starter Grant Schuermann improved to 3-0 on the year. Albright finished the game 2-4 with two doubles and also continued his streak of scoring or driving in a run in every contest this season.
UT Martin will close out the First Pitch Invitational tomorrow morning as they take on Big Ten opponent Michigan State. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m.