UTM proves it belongs with historic tourney win

UTM proves it belongs with historic tourney win
Special to The Messenger
JACKSON — The UT-Martin baseball team made history Thursday by winning the program’s first-ever Ohio Valley Conference Tournament game.
Sophomore hurler Alex Mills — in just the third start of his career — scattered 10 hits and gave up just two runs (one earned) in 7 2/3 innings as the Skyhawks eliminated Eastern Kentucky with a 6-2 victory at Pringles Park.
UTM (20-35), which is making just its second-ever appearance in the OVC postseason event, was to face No. 2 seed Southeast Missouri in another elimination game this morning at 11 a.m.
Should the sixth-seeded Skyhawks beat SEMO, they would play Tennessee Tech at 3 p.m.
UTM got great clutch pitching from Mills and timely hitting to win for the first time in now-four league tournament games.
Mills, who got the victory last Saturday when the Skyhawks clinched their tournament berth, fanned the side in the first after EKU had scored an unearned run to take a quick 1-0 lead.
UTM head coach Bubba Cates complimented Mills on keeping the Colonels from doing any further damage with his three strikeouts.
“That was big. They had a chance to really create some big things for themselves early,” he said. “They were swinging the bats aggressively early and they are a dangerous offensive team.”
“Both teams were very aggressive early. Ritchie Rodriguez hit that first pitch we threw up there a mile foul. Then he hits one off the centerfield wall. Alec Mills did a great job for us and that shows you what kind of job he settled in to do because they swung the bats good early.”
It did not take long for the Skyhawks to get that run back. Jordan Owen hit a double down the left field line followed by a base hit by Wes Patterson to put runners on the corners with one out. Erik Larsen laid down a perfect bunt — fielded by the pitcher with the only play going to first base — allowing Owen to score the Skyhawks first run of the game. Stooksbury made amends for his fielding error by hitting a triple to the centerfield gap, picking up an RBI on the hit and giving the Skyhawks a 2-1 margin after two innings of play.
The Skyhawks added two more runs in the top of the third on an Okey base hit followed by Terry being hit by a pitch and a walk to Phil Sorensen to load the bases. Okey scored on a wild pitch, which also allowed the other base runners to advance a base. Terry ended the scoring for the Skyhawks in the third on a base hit by Owen.
The Skyhawks opened up the top half of the fourth inning with a base hit from Stooksbury. His hit was enough to knock the starting pitcher out of the game. Blake Bottoms entered the game in relief of Matt Harris and walked Matt Young before getting Karlen to fly out. Okey walked on four straight pitches, loading the bases for the second time in the game. Chris Hord came in to pitch and was greeted with a base hit by Terry scoring Stooksbury. A wild pitch by Hord allowed Young to come across the plate to end the scoring.
Meanwhile, Mills kept cruising through the Colonels batting order until the eighth inning, when he gave up a run and was replaced by Alex Boshers — UT Martin’s Game 1 starter Wednesday.
Boshers got Michael Garcia to lift a fly ball to centerfield to end any further EKU scoring threat.
Published in The Messenger 5.27.11

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