MARTIN, Tenn. – A nine-run seventh inning rally by the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team broke open what was a one-run game, as the Skyhawks finished off their three-game sweep over the Ohio Valley Conference’s second place team Morehead State.
After winning 1-0 on Friday night and 9-5 on Saturday, UT Martin bested the visiting team by an impressive 12 runs en route to the program’s first conference sweep since April 22-23, 2011 over Eastern Kentucky.
“The guys worked really hard all week and came in ready to play this weekend,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “We had some players that stepped up in this series. This is a great baseball team that we played this weekend and it was good to see our guys come up big in some of those important moments in the game.”
For the second consecutive day, it was the visiting team on the board first as the Eagles touched up UT Martin starting pitcher Dalton Westfall for two runs in the top half of the second inning to take the early 2-0 lead.
However, as they had done all weekend long, the Skyhawks bounced back with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning as freshman Connor Aube singled home catcher Dan Kerwin to bring home one run. Tanner Wessling scored all the way from second on the same play thanks to a throwing error from Eagle second baseman Braxton Morris to even the score 2-2.
Morehead State (22-10, 8-4) tacked on two more runs in the third to reclaim the 4-2 lead, but for the fourth straight inning in which Morehead State had scored dating back to yesterday, the Skyhawks responded in the bottom half with some runs. Josh Hauser scampered home on another error from Morehead State, while Tanner Wessling laid down a beautiful bunt to the right side for an RBI-single. On the Wessling bunt, an errant throw also allowed Kerwin to come home and give UT Martin the 5-4 advantage.
The Eagles tied up the game in the fifth with an RBI-groundout by catcher Hunter Fain. The Skyhawks quickly took the lead back with two runs in the bottom of the inning, as an RBI-triple from Aube down the left field line and an RBI-single from pinch hitter Robert Worley tallied a pair of runs in the inning for UT Martin to give them the 7-5 lead.
For the third straight inning, the visiting team picked up a run in the sixth, as Morehead State cut the margin to 7-6 on a sacrifice fly from Niko Hulsizer.
UT Martin (12-16, 4-11) blew down the doors in the seventh inning to the tune of nine runs on seven hits as the Skyhawks took what was a close game to a double-digit advantage. An RBI-double from Steen, an RBI-single from Aube, a Ben Aslett two-run homerun, an RBI-double from Tyler Albright, an RBI on a hit-by-pitch from Steen, and a two RBI-double off the bat of Aube for his second hit of the inning rounded out the scoring for UT Martin in what was the biggest inning in OVC play this season. The nine total runs put UT Martin on top 16-6 after seven.
The Skyhawks tacked on two more in the eighth on a solo shot off the bat of Albright for his second home run of the season and an RBI-groundout from freshman Anthony Adduci to give the home squad the decisive 18-6 victory.
Alex Evans (3-3) came on in relief of Westfall in the third and picked up the victory, tossing 2.1 innings and allowing just one earned run. Kyle Laberge (1) tossed three scoreless frames out of the Skyhawk bullpen striking out four hitters and picking up his first career save. Curtis Wilson (4-3) took the loss for Morehead State.
Offensively, Aube (4-5, five RBI’s), Wessling (3-3, four runs scored), Hauser (3-5, two runs scored), Albright (2-6, one home run) and Helgren (2-6, three runs scored) all notched multiple hits in the win, while Steen (two), Kerwin (one), Worley (one), Adduci (one) and Eldridge (one) each recorded RBI’s as well for UT Martin.
In the entire three-game set, the Skyhawks racked up seven doubles, six triples and four homers on their way to scoring 28 total runs. The UT Martin bullpen allowed just two earned runs on 12.1 innings in the series as they closed the door to seal victories in all three contests.
UT Martin will hope to continue their winning streak as they travel to Southeastern Conference opponent Kentucky on Wednesday, April 12. First pitch from Lexington, Ky. is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.