CHARLESTON, ILL. – After tacking on two runs in the top of the ninth inning, the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team seemed prime for a comeback, but its attempt fell just short, as the Skyhawks dropped their first and only game of the series to Eastern Illinois, 9-8, on Sunday afternoon.
UT Martin (23-24, 10-14 OVC) was on the board first for the third consecutive contest, as senior Dan Kerwin continued his recent success with an RBI-double to left-center to score lead-off hitter Creighton Eldridge and give the Skyhawks the early 1-0 advantage.
The top two in the UT Martin lineup teamed up again in the second inning as Eldridge drove home a run with a two-bagger to right-center. Kerwin then picked up his second RBI of the night with a single to bring home Eldridge and extend the Skyhawk lead to 3-0.
Eastern Illinois (17-31, 10-14 OVC) battled back in the bottom half of the second with three runs on a home run from Panther outfielder Frankie Perrone to knot the score at 3-3. Eastern Illinois took their first lead of the day in the following inning as the home squad tacked on two runs to take the 5-3 lead.
The Skyhawks roared back in the top of the fifth inning as they pushed across two runs. Seniors Tanner Wessling and Josh Hauser each picked up RBI-base hits in the inning as UT Martin evened the score at 5-5.
Kerwin continued his incredible week with the go-ahead hit in the sixth inning. His double to left field brought home his third RBI of the contest and put UT Martin ahead 6-5 headed to the bottom of the sixth. The Panthers tied up the contest in the bottom half of the inning with a single run as the squads entered the final three frames tied 6-6.
Eastern Illinois took the lead in the seventh inning pushing across three runs to take the 9-6 lead. The Skyhawks fought back in the ninth as Wessling led off the inning with a solo bomb to bring the score to 9-7. Ben Aslett picked up his sixth RBI of the series with a sacrifice fly to center, but that was all that UT Martin could manage as they dropped the game three decision 9-8.
Peyton Cain (1-5) started on the hill for UT Martin, tossing 6.0 innings, but was saddled with the loss. Sam Folks and Alex Evans each saw an inning of work in relief for the Skyhawks. Michael Starcevich (5-5) recorded the win for the Panthers.
Kerwin (4-5, three RBI’s), Wessling (3-5, two RBI’s) and Aslett (2-3, two runs) were the top UT Martin performers at the plate, each picking up multiple hits in the contest.
The Skyhawks will look to bounce back on Tuesday night as they head to Mullington to meet up with American Athletic Conference foe Memphis in the final mid-week tune up of the year. First pitch from USA Stadium is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.