CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – A late rally falls just short for the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team as the Skyhawks drop a 5-4 thriller in game-two of their series at Ohio Valley Conference rival Southeast Missouri (9-7, 2-3). After the Redhawks scored twice to break the 3-3 tie in the bottom half of the eighth, UT Martin (7-9, 0-5) rallied to push across one in the ninth, but were unable to score the tying run.
SEMO opened up the scoring in the bottom of the first as Tristen Gagan drew a walk with the bases loaded from Skyhawk starting pitcher Dalton Westfall. Redhawk catcher Brian Lees then knocked a single through the left side to put Southeast Missouri in front 2-0. A sacrifice fly from SEMO outfielder Dan Holst extended the lead to 3-0 in the second.
UT Martin responded with a run of their own in the third as shortstop Josh Hauser launched his first home run of the season over the left field wall to pull to within 3-1. The solo shot was the Belvidere, Ill. native’s first career jack as a Skyhawk.
The lead was cut in half with another UT Martin run in the fourth inning. After consecutive singles by Anthony Adduci and Tanner Wessling to lead off the inning, designated hitter Dan Kerwin picked up his second RBI of the series with a hot shot up the middle to drive in Adduci and trim the Redhawk margin to 3-2.
After quiet middle innings by both squads, Connor Aube ignited another Skyhawk rally with a leadoff single in the seventh. After a sacrifice bunt from centerfielder Creighton Eldridge and an errant pitch from top Redhawk reliever Carlos Vega, Wessling brought home Aube with an RBI-groundout to second to knot the contest at 3-3.
Westfall settled in nicely after the rocky start retiring 15 of the next 19 Southeast Missouri hitters, including retiring six straight in the sixth and seventh innings. However, the Buckhannon, W.Va. native found trouble in the eighth issuing back-to-back walks to open the inning. Right-hander Alex Evans came on in relief but could not shut the door as SEMO outfielder Chris Osborne used a two-run single to put the Redhawks back in front 5-3.
The Skyhawks refused to go away quietly as a pinch-hit off the bat of freshman Robert Worley scored Tyler Albright from second to narrow the gap to 5-4. However, that was all the UT Martin offense could manage as the Skyhawks dropped game-two of the three-game set.
Westfall (2-2) tossed a solid 7.0 innings, striking out six and allowing five runs and was saddled with the loss. Matthew Wade (2-0) picked up the victory for Southeast Missouri in relief action.
Aube (2-4, one run) and Eldridge (2-4, one double) notched multi-hit performances for UT Martin while Hauser, Kerwin, Worley and Wessling all picked up RBI’s
The Skyhawks meet up with Southeast Missouri in the series finale tomorrow afternoon in Cape Girardeau. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.