CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Maintaining a four-run advantage with six innings in the books through Saturday afternoon’s Ohio Valley Conference affair with Southeast Missouri, the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team saw an abrupt shift in the game’s direction once the Redhawks managed a three-score double in the very last frame that allowed the three-game set to balance evenly at one win each.

Following SEMO’s walk-off victory by a 7-6 clip, both sides will await tomorrow’s grudge match in the Skyhawks’ regular season finale at 1:00 pm The blue and orange will aim for a second OVC series win at the final act of the semester after inching precariously close to reaching that feat this afternoon behind 11 more hits and a 7-3 lead acquired two/thirds of the way through the midway portion of the weekend slate on the road.

Continuing his phenomenal offensive output in the final league series of a record-setting five-year tenure, first baseman Ethan Whitley stacked up his weekend RBI collection to eight in just two outings by launching another multi-run homer in the 2nd stanza before batting two more runs in during the 5th. Lassoing 25 runs since February, Whitley has now earned the status of second-place among all former UT Martin players by soaring 36 balls past the outfield barrier since 2018.

Producing their third sequence of the series with at least three scores in a single inning, the Skyhawks wrestled Southeast Missouri’s one-run lead away by totaling four runs in the 5th and 6th. Whitley’s seventh and eighth RBI of the last 48 hours were sandwiched in between a couple more scores that pushed the lead in favor of UTM by a quartet. Taken from a wild pitch with the bases loaded and then a sprint home by Alec Beaman off a high ball into the opposite side of the field, the visitors put themselves in a solid position to grab their second straight W until the Redhawk comeback at the last opportunity available.

Will LaFollette and Nate Self lined up three of the team’s four doubles on Saturday to give UT Martin eight such hits over the past two days and 25 overall in this series against SEMO. Both Self and LaFollette have tallied four connections each since Friday, helping head coach Ryan Jenkins‘ club amass 16 runs in the final OVC set of the year thus far.

Additionally, centerfield Will Smith continued a pair of impressive streaks as the lead-off batter, recording at least one hit in seven straight matchups while putting himself on base for the 14th meeting in a row.

Following in the footsteps of Seth Petry and Tucker Reed’s laudable pitching performance the previous night in a seven-run triumph, starting southpaw Lawson Russell Embarked on a solid 5.2 innings of work in Game 2, surrendering just four hits to a team that entered the weekend tied for the OVC lead while striking out four and only walking a pair. Redshirt-freshman Baylor Jones finished out the final three chapters of the contest after Russell’s 104-pitch day, setting the stage for what should be a very intriguing clash on Sunday.

Hoping to close the 2022 season on a high note with a series W over the preseason OVC favorite, UTM’s spring finale is set for 1:00 on ESPN+.

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