The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team picked up a 6-3 win in its Ohio Valley Conference opener today before falling 1-0 in the doubleheader nightcap against the Murray State Racers.
The Skyhawk pitching staff posted a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings today, allowing only 11 hits (nine singles) for a .190 opponent batting average. Freshman right-hander Michael Fidler (four innings, two runs on two hits) earned the win in relief in Game 1 with Patrick Bernard (three strikeouts in two scoreless innings) earning his second save of the season. Daniel Shaw (Game 1 start, one run on two hits in three innings), Carter Smith (one earned run, six strikeouts in seven innings of Game 2) and Matt Poteete (one perfect relief inning in Game 2) also saw time on the mound today for UT Martin, who is 2-8 overall with a 1-1 OVC mark.
At the plate, Taylor Douglas scored twice and piled up four hits in eight at-bats today while Andrew Castillo and Jake Deason each pieced together three hits. Nico Zych drove in a pair of runs to lead the Skyhawks today, who outhit Murray State by a 17-11 margin.
These two teams will meet for a rubber match to determine a series winner on Sunday, March 8 at 12 p.m.
UT Martin pushed four runs across the plate in the top of the eighth to beat the defending OVC Pitcher of the Year Brock Downey in the Game 1 victory.
The Racers scored a run in the bottom of the first but the Skyhawks came back to tie the game in their next at-bat. Luis Paublini singled to right field to open the frame and Matt Hirsch reached after he was hit by a pitch. Castillo then singled to load the bases with no outs and two pitches later, Mikey Nantze brought in Paublini with a squeeze bunt to even the contest at 1-all.
Shaw then kept Murray State off the scoreboard in each of the next two innings before giving way to Fidler, who needed only nine pitches to breeze through a perfect bottom of the fourth.
The Skyhawks took their first lead of the game in the top of the fifth. Douglas lined a two-out double down the left field line and Zych followed with an RBI single to result in a 2-1 UT Martin advantage.
Murray State scored two runs with two outs in the fifth to briefly reclaim the lead. Fidler then retired the side in order in both the sixth and seventh innings to give the Skyhawks a chance to win in the late innings.
UT Martin rewarded Fidler with four runs in the top of the eighth. Douglas drew a leadoff walk and five pitches later, Zych found the gap for a triple out to right field to tie the score at 3-all. Following a pitching change, Zych scored the go-ahead run on an error and Castillo followed with a RBI single to plate Hirsch. With two away, Andrew Massey ripped a 2-0 pitch for an opposite-field triple to score Castillo and make the score 6-3 in favor of the Skyhawks.
Bernard then tallied a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the eighth and pitched around pair of two-out singles to record the final out via a called strikeout to clinch UT Martin’s win.
The Skyhawks took a 1-0 lead through five innings but Murray State was able to scratch out two unanswered runs to close out the game.
UT Martin placed baserunners on the corners with one out in the top of the first but could not manufacture a run. Smith then began his tremendous outing by stranding a pair of Racers in the bottom half of the frame to keep the game scoreless.
Smith then found his groove. After issuing back-to-back walks to begin the second inning, he retired 12 consecutive batters until Murray State led off the sixth inning with a single.
Meanwhile, the UT Martin offense got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth. Deason singled with one out and swiped second base during the following at-bat. Zych (reached on an error) and Paublini (walk) then reached to load the bases for Matt Hirsch, who took a walk on five pitches to score Deason.
Smith recorded two strikeouts in the aforementioned sixth inning but the Racers were able to tie the game at 1-all on a sacrifice fly.
Murray State was able to put a man in scoring position in the seventh inning but Smith buckled down, recording the final out on a called strikeout to keep the score 1-1.
However, the Racers were able to generate a run early in the bottom of the eighth before Poteete came in and picked up three outs on four pitches.
UT Martin had the heart of its order up in the top of the ninth but the Skyhawks could not put the potential tying run on the basepaths.