MARTIN, Tenn. – A costly five-run second inning loomed large, as the University of Tennessee at Martin dropped game one 5-4 against Jacksonville State on Friday night. The Skyhawks clawed back from a big early deficit, but ended up just one run short in the loss.
Jacksonville State (26-22, 13-12 OVC) was on the board first in the contest, picking up all five of their runs in the top half of the second inning. The Gamecocks totaled three hits, including the big hit of the inning by reserve Peyton Williams who sent a three-run shot over the left field wall to put the visiting squad ahead.
UT Martin (23-26, 10-15 OVC) immediately picked up one in their next at-bat. Senior Josh Hauser brought home Keylen Steen with an RBI-groundout to put the Skyhawks on the board. It was Hauser’s 21st run batted in on the year and it trimmed his squad’s deficit to 5-1.
The Skyhawks responded with another run in the third inning when fellow senior Ryan Helgren drove in a run with an RBI-single through the right side. The cleanup hitter picked up his 32nd RBI on the season and brought UT Martin within three, 5-2.
The home team continued their comeback quest in the sixth inning as centerfielder Creighton Eldridge scampered home on a wild pitch, followed by an RBI-base knock off the bat of Tyler Albright to push across a total of two runs in the inning and bring the Skyhawks within one 5-4.
UT Martin threated in the eighth inning, but were unable to find the equalizing run as they dropped game one of the three-game set 5-4. Winston Cannon (4-4) rebounded nicely after the tough second inning and tossed 6.0 strong, allowing just the five runs and striking out two in the loss. Derrick Adams (6-2) earned the victory for the Gamecocks.
Reliever Kyle Laberge enjoyed his best game at UT Martin, coming on in the seventh inning and hurling 3.0 scoreless innings to keep the Skyhawks within striking distance.
At the plate, Albright (2-5, one RBI) was the lone UT Martin hitter to pick up a pair of hits in the game, while Helgren and Steen notched RBIs in the loss.
UT Martin will return to action tomorrow afternoon beginning at 3 p.m. in game two against Jacksonville State. Tomorrow is also Senior Day for the six Skyhawk seniors, who will be recognized for their careers prior to the game.