MILLINGTON, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team dropped a back and forth thriller with American Athletic Conference rival Memphis 7-6 on Tuesday night. The Skyhawks were one strike away from tying the program’s Division-I record for victories in a season, but could not shut the door in the final frame.
UT Martin (23-25, 10-14 OVC) was the first on the board as senior Tanner Wessling continued his stellar senior campaign with an two-run double down the left field line to bring home fellow senior Ryan Helgren and shortstop Josh Hauser to kickstart the Skyhawk offense and put them in front 2-0 early.
Skyhawk starting pitcher Sam Folks was effective through the first three innings, but ran into his first bit of trouble in the bottom of the fourth. The Tigers tacked on three runs in the inning to put them ahead for the first time in the game by a 3-2 score.
It did not take long for UT Martin to answer back and reclaim its lead, as Helgren brought home a run on a sacrifice fly and Wessling picked up his third RBI of the day with a single through the left side in the top of the fifth inning to put the Skyhawks back out in front 4-3.
Memphis (26-23, 6-12 AAC) used two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to jump back in front 5-4. UT Martin brought home another run in the top of the sixth as Hauser scampered home on a throwing error by the Tigers to knot the game at 5-5.
Freshman Connor Aube represented the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning and used a base hit to reach first. After swiping second base and then advancing to third on a wild pitch, Aube came home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of second baseman Tyler Albright to give UT Martin the 6-5 advantage.
The Skyhawks looked poised to win game number 24 on the season but a pair of timely base hits in the bottom of the ninth inning by Memphis brought home two runs and reversed the script on the visiting squad as the Tigers claimed the 7-6 walk-off win.
Folks tossed a solid 5.0 innings, allowing four earned runs and striking out four Tigers along the way. Jake Patzner made a rare relief appearance and was extremely effective keeping Memphis off the board in 2.0 innings of work. Shane Seckinger also tossed a scoreless frame for the Skyhawks. Alex Evans (7-5) was on to close the game, but was unable to shut the door and took the loss. Blake Bennett (2-0) picked up the victory for Memphis.
At the plate, Hauser (3-4, one run), Wessling (2-5, three RBI’s) and Dan Kerwin (2-5) all recorded multi-hit performances for UT Martin.
The Skyhawks will refocus on Ohio Valley Conference play as they host Jacksonville State beginning this Friday, May 12 at Skyhawk Field. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 6 p.m.