MARTIN, Tenn. – After being held scoreless through the first six innings, the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team exploded for seven runs in its final two at-bats to take down Ohio Valley Conference foe Jacksonville State in the 2017 home finale.
The Skyhawk victory notched a pair of program milestones, as the win was number 24 on the season which tied the 2010 team for most overall wins in a single season since joining Division-I in 1993, and also gave the Skyhawks their 11th OVC win of the year, which is now the most in program history.
“In the first few innings we left seven guys on base so we knew that if we stuck with it we could get some runs across,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “It was fitting that the good at-bats we were putting together paid off in the eighth inning and it was great for Tyler Albright and Tanner Wessling to step up in a big spot and give us a pretty big cushion to work with for Alex Evans on the mound.”
UT Martin (24-27, 11-16 OVC) threatened with runners in scoring position in the first three innings, but it was Jacksonville State (27-23, 14-13 OVC) who scored first with a pair of runs in the fourth inning to give the Gamecocks the 2-0 advantage.
The Skyhawks struggled in the fourth through sixth inning at the plate as the home squad was trying to stay in OVC Tournament contention with just one weekend series left to play. The reigning NCBWA National Player of the Week, Dan Kerwin, sparked the offense in the seventh inning with a solo blast to straight away center field to bring the Skyhawks within one, 2-1.
The decisive inning came in the bottom of the eighth as UT Martin brought home six runs on four hits. Albright got the scoring going with a two-run single to score Carson Shrode and Creighton Eldridge and put the Skyhawks on top 3-2. Kerwin followed it up with a single to give UT Martin the bases loaded with Wessling stepping to the plate. The senior blasted his third homer of the year over the left field wall for a grand slam to put the Skyhawks ahead for good, 7-2.
The UT Martin pitching staff were the unsung heroes of the contest as starter Peyton Cain and reliever Evans combined to frustrate the Gamecock bats all day. Cain put in another good outing for the Skyhawks, tossing 5.0 innings, while allowing just the two earned runs and striking out four. Evans (8-5) finished the final four frames, holding Jacksonville State scoreless, while striking out five to pick up his 16th career victory.
Albright (3-5, two RBI’s) and Kerwin (3-5, two runs) each picked up a trio of hits in the contest, while Wessling finished with the important four RBI’s.
UT Martin will return to action on Thursday, May 18, as they travel to rival Murray State, to conclude regular season play, for a three-game series.