The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team pounded out 17 runs courtesy of 27 hits during its doubleheader today but ultimately came away with a pair of tough losses, falling 8-7 to Texas-Pan American and 20-10 to Jackson State.
One day after his solo homer lifted the Skyhawks to a 1-0 win in the season-opener, senior Nico Zych stayed hot today, hitting .667 with three doubles in nine at-bats. Fletcher Johnson had a team-best four RBI’s today while Nick Pribble, Taylor Douglas and Mike Murphy each recorded four hits. Luis Paublini (two doubles), Andrew Castillo (four runs scored) and Jake Deason (homer) also provided some pop for UT Martin today.
On the mound, Alex Martin drew the starting assignment in Game 1 and dazzled Texas-Pan American through seven innings, conceding only one run on three hits while notching a career-high 10 strikeouts. However, he received a tough luck no-decision after the Broncs posted the comeback victory. As a staff, eight Skyhawk hurlers combined for 16 strikeouts in 17 innings today.
The Skyhawks conclude the season-opening tournament tomorrow with a 1 p.m. matchup against host Jackson State.
Murphy, Zych and Paublini each had three hits while Douglas, Castillo and Paublini all drove in a pair of runs to back Martin on the mound but Texas-Pan American rallied in the late innings.
Martin retired the first seven batters he faced, four of which came via a strikeout. However, the Broncs were able to take a 1-0 lead after a two-out single in the top of the third.
The Skyhawks then answered right back with three runs and five hits in the bottom half of the frame. Pribble and Murphy led things off with back-to-back singles and after a fielder’s choice, Castillo laced a two-run double to put UT Martin on top by a 2-1 margin. Zych followed with a bunt single and moments later, Paublini fought off a 3-2 pitch for a double to right center that plated Castillo and made the score 3-1.
Martin then found his groove again, sitting down the next five Texas-Pan American batters in order.
UT Martin got back on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. After Castillo reached on a fielder’s choice, Zych lined a double into the gap in left center to put baserunners on second and third. Paublini then singled up the middle to bring in Castillo and provide the Skyhawks with a 4-1 edge.
Martin pitched around a two-out single to strike out the side in the sixth, setting the stage for another big offensive inning in the bottom half.
After Pribble and Murphy each singled with two outs, Douglas roped a double to bring in both runners and give UT Martin a 6-1 advantage through six innings of play.
Martin got through another scoreless frame in the seventh before giving way to the bullpen. A pair of errors played a role in a seven-run eighth inning for Texas-Pan American, as three of the Broncs’ runs were unearned.
Trailing 8-6 in the bottom of the eighth, Deason muscled up for a one-out homer to pull the Skyhawks back within a single run. It was the fourth career longball for the redshirt junior infielder from Bartlett, Tenn.
After Dalton Potts notched a pair of strikeouts in a clean top of the ninth, Zych accounted for a two-out single in the bottom half of the frame to put the tying run on base. However, he was ultimately stranded as Texas-Pan American claimed the win.
After tallying eight runs in the season’s first two games, the Skyhawks went off for 10 runs in their doubleheader nightcap but Jackson State put together two big innings on its way to the win.
Skyhawk starting pitcher Chris Flores pitched around trouble in the first inning, holding the Tigers off the scoreboard.
UT Martin jumped out to a lead in the top of the second. Zych belted a leadoff double and later advanced to third on a passed ball. Two batters later, he trotted home on a groundout to give the Skyhawks a 1-0 advantage.
Jackson State then scored nine runs in the bottom of the second – all of which came after the first two batters of the inning were retired. Included in the inning was a three-out triple and grand slam for the Tigers.
The Skyhawks didn’t hang their heads, as they clawed back for a pair of runs in the top of the third. Murphy reached on an error and Castillo hit into a fielder’s choice to put men on the corners. Zych then singled in Murphy and after both runners moved up 90 feet on a passed ball, Castillo scored on a fielder’s choice to make the score 9-3.
The Tigers tacked on one more run in the third but freshman Michael Fidler accounted for a shutout fourth inning in his collegiate debut.
UT Martin was able to get back in the game with a big fifth inning. Castillo was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and Zych followed with a double. Castillo scored on an error and after Mikey Nantze was hit by a pitch, the bases were juiced for Johnson, who crushed the first pitch he saw for a grand slam – the first career round-tripper for the sophomore outfielder out of Helena, Ala. All in all, the Skyhawks pushed five runs across the plate and sliced their deficit to 10-8.
However, Jackson State responded with three runs in the fifth and two runs in the sixth to take a 15-8 lead.
The Skyhawks got two runs back in the top of the seventh, as Hirsch (reached on a walk) and Nantze (reached on a single) each scored on passed balls to make the score 15-10.
Jackson State added five runs in the eighth before freshman Matt Poteete held the Tigers off the scoreboard in his collegiate debut in the eighth inning.
UT Martin would place a pair of runners on the basepaths in the top of the ninth but couldn’t complete a comeback.