Taylor Douglas and Austin Taylor each stayed hot at the plate for the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team but a four-run fifth inning by Morehead State proved to be the difference in an 8-6 Skyhawk loss this afternoon.
Home runs by Taylor and Douglas in the first three innings gave UT Martin (10-22, 5-12 Ohio Valley Conference) a lead but the Eagles scored all eight of their runs in the third through fifth innings and the Skyhawks could not catch up.
Douglas concluded the day with four RBI’s to go along with a pair of hits while Fletcher Johnson also added two hits and a run scored out of the No. 9 hole. Andrew Castillo reached base safely three times, driving in a run and scoring a run while Nick Pribble and Matt Hirsch also scored a run for UT Martin.
On the mound, Carter Smith (2-5) was charged with the loss after going allowing seven earned runs in 4.1 innings. Jackson Zarubin came on in relief in the fifth and was very effective, tossing 4.2 shutout innings – allowing only five hits (all singles) and one walk.
Smith began the game by retiring the side in order in the top of the first. He followed that with another scoreless frame in the second, pitching around a one-out double.
Taylor then gave the Skyhawks a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the second, mauling a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left field for his second homer in as many days and fourth longball of the season.
Morehead State, who won its ninth consecutive game this afternoon, got on the scoreboard with three runs in the top of the third before Douglas’ blast tilted the score back in UT Martin’s favor. After Pribble (walk) and Castillo (hit by pitch) reached base to begin the bottom of the third, Douglas cranked an inside fastball for a towering homer over the scoreboard in left field, resulting in a 4-3 Skyhawk advantage. It was the team-best sixth homer of the season for the Holladay, Tenn. native.
The Eagles were able to tie the game with one run in the top of the fourth, despite the fact that Smith struck out the side in the inning. Morehead State then struck for four runs in the top of the fifth before Zarubin entered and induced an inning-ending double play. Zarubin then tossed a scoreless sixth and seventh innings to allow the UT Martin offense to do some more damage.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hirsch was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Johnson followed with a one-out single. Pribble then walked to load the bases for Castillo, who was hit by a pitch to bring in Hirsch and make the score 8-5. Following a pitching change, Douglas guided a single through the left side to score Johnson and put the tying run on second base. However, Morehead State was able to secure an inning-ending double play to briefly pause the Skyhawk threat.
Zarubin displayed some glove work in the top of the eighth, as he snared a line drive hit right back to him and threw to first base to double-off an Eagle runner to conclude the inning with another zero posted on the scoreboard.
UT Martin was able to load the bases with one away one more time in the bottom of the eighth but once again the Eagles got out of a jam by turning an inning-ending double play.
The Skyhawk defense returned the favor in the top of the ninth, as Zarubin induced a 6-3 double play to send the game into the bottom of the ninth. However, UT Martin was unable to bring the tying run to the plate.
The Skyhawks close out their home series against Morehead State on Sunday, April 12 with a first pitch time of 1 p.m. scheduled to take place at Skyhawk Field. The game will be streamed live, free of charge on the OVC Digital Network.