Tournament Notes Championship Central Watch: OVCDN Live Stats
OXFORD, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team will begin action in its first Ohio Valley Conference Tournament appearance since 2011, and just its third trip in program history with an opening round elimination game.
The Skyhawks will begin play in the annual tournament on Tuesday, May 23 at 6 p.m. at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Ala. UT Martin (25-29, 12-18 OVC) will battle it out with Austin Peay (26-28, 13-16 OVC) in a do-or-die game to determine who will meet Morehead State on Wednesday night. The Skyhawks are 1-4 all-time in the tournament with their lone victory coming in 2011 over Southeast Missouri.
“The advantage of being the eight seed is that you get to play early while the other teams are sitting an extra day,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “This extra game will give our players a chance to relax and prepare for the rest of the tournament. It’s always rewarding when your team can extend the season after the regular season is over and no matter what seed you enter the tournament your expectations are that you will walk away with a championship.”
UT Martin has balanced timely hitting and solid pitching all season long to battle back from a 1-11 start in conference play to qualify for the tournament. On the mound, the Skyhawk pitching staff has racked up a program record 425 strikeouts this season which blows away the previous mark of 369 set a season ago.
Senior Alex Evans has moved into third place all-time with 16 career victories including an 8-5 mark this season, while teammate Dalton Westfall (5-5) has notched 80 punch outs on the year to lead the team.
At the plate, the surging UT Martin offense is led by a couple of seniors who will be looking to extend their season deep into the tournament. Dan Kerwin (.344, 16 doubles, 10 homers) and Tanner Wessling (.357, 12 doubles, 39 RBI’s) each have paced the offense, while Tyler Albright (.333), Ben Aslett (.302) and Keylen Steen (.301) all are batting above .300 on the year.
In a three-game series with Austin Peay earlier in the season at Skyhawk Field, the Governors took two-out-of-three from the Skyhawks. UT Martin’s lone win came on a game-tying grand slam from Kerwin, followed by a walk-off two run bomb by Creighton Eldridge in the bottom of the ninth to win game two of the series, 10-8.
Dre Gleason (.338), Parker Phillips (.337) and Alex Robles (.337) pace the Govs offense racking up a combined 32 homers and 135 RBI’s on the year. Josh Rye (6-4, 4.34 ERA) is the top pitcher in the Austin Peay rotation.
Every game throughout the tournament can be streamed on the OVC Digital Network or by following the above link.