MURRAY, Ky. – For the first time since the 2011 campaign, the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team will be heading back to the Ohio Valley Conference tournament despite dropping a 14-4 decision to Murray State on Friday evening.
The Skyhawks clinched a spot in the eight-team field after Eastern Kentucky lost to Southeast Missouri. This will be just the third ever appearance in the tournament for UT Martin, who have one regular season game remaining tomorrow.
“I am excited for our players, especially our seniors, for them to have the opportunity to experience the OVC Tournament,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “This is another indication that that our program is making improvements.”
UT Martin (25-28, 12-17 OVC) picked up where they left off in last night’s contest, as the visiting squad piled on three runs in the first inning to gain the early advantage. Catcher Keylen Steen belted a two-run double to right field to drive in a pair of runs, before senior Josh Hauser laced a ball into centerfield to bring home Steen and give the Skyhawks the 3-0 lead.
Murray State (26-28, 14-15 OVC) responded in the bottom half of the first with a run of their own. UT Martin reclaimed their three-run advantage in the top of the second as red-hot senior Dan Kerwin drilled an RBI-single to put the Skyhawks back ahead 4-1.
The Racers scored one in the second and seven runs in what would be the decisive fourth inning on five hits and two UT Martin errors to take their first lead of the series 9-4. The home squad would add a pair of runs in the sixth and a trio of runs in the seventh to take game two 14-4.
The Skyhawks loaded the bases in the eighth inning, but were unable to put any runs across as they could only manage two total hits in their final seven at-bats in the loss.
Peyton Cain (1-7) started the game for the Skyhawks and suffered the loss. Four other UT Martin pitchers saw action including Sam Folks, Jake Patzner, Tyler Borski and Konnor Aherin. Austin Dubsky (3-7) picked up the win for Murray State.
Steen (2-3, two RBI’s) and Kerwin (2-4, one RBI) were the lone UT Martin batters to pick up multiple hits on the night.
The Skyhawks will wrap up regular season play against the Racers, before turning their attention to the OVC Tournament, tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.