Alec Mills Leads UTM to First OVC Baseball Tournament Victory in Program History
Skyhawks defeat Eastern Kentucky 6-2 at Pringles Park.
UTM Sports Information
The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team earned its first Ohio Valley Conference tournament victory in program history this afternoon, defeating Eastern Kentucky 6-2 at Pringles Park.
For the second time in less than a week, sophomore Alec Mills stepped up to deliver a huge start to extend the Skyhawks’ season. After making his first start of the season last Saturday and picking up a win over Austin Peay to clinch a berth in the OVC tournament, Mills allowed only two runs (one earned) in 7.2 innings to pick up his seventh victory of the year. Mills pounded the strike zone to the tune of six strikeouts against zero walks, firing 80 of his 120 pitches for strikes.
Less than 24 hours after being charged with a loss in UT Martin’s OVC tournament opener, sophomore Alex Boshers recovered rather well – earning his second save of the season by pitching 1.1 perfect innings, fanning two.
“Alec did a great job for us today,” Skyhawk head coach Bubba Cates said. “He settled in nicely after they swung the bats good early. He made an adjustment or two and conserved his pitches after working hard in that first inning. We needed to get a long stretch out of him today. He sailed through the middle of the game and our defense made some big plays behind him.”
The Skyhawk offense was carried today by Jordan Owen and Cory Stooksbury. Owen ran his career-long hit streak to 13 games, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Stooksbury also went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Cody Terry scored and drove in a run, and Wes Patterson joined elite company today, stroking his 200th career hit, joining Terry and Bryant Jones (2001-04) as the only players in UT Martin history to collect that many hits in a career.
Although Mills came out firing – striking out the side in the first – an unearned run crossed the plate to give Eastern Kentucky an early 1-0 advantage. The Skyhawk bats then got rolling, scoring two runs in each of the next three frames.
In the top of the second, Owen smashed a one-out double down the left field line. Four pitches later, Patterson guided a single through the left side for his milestone hit. Erik Larsen then laid down a sacrifice bunt that scored Owen and advanced Patterson to second. Stooksbury then ripped a triple into deep center field to clear the bases and put the Skyhawks ahead 2-1.
Mills then found his rhythm on the mound, holding the Colonels scoreless until the eighth inning, not allowing a runner past second base until late in that inning.
Meanwhile, the Skyhawk offense continued to click. Okey hit a one-out single to second base. Terry was then hit by a pitch, and after a walk to Phil Sorensen, the bases were loaded. A wild pitch brought in Okey and later in the at-bat, Owen singled to center to score Terry and make the score 4-1.
Mills stranded a runner on third base with one out by collecting his fifth strikeout of the game and inducing a groundout to end the third.
Stooksbury singled up the middle to lead off the fourth, then Matt Young drew a four-pitch walk. After a flyout, Okey drew his 40th walk of the season – tying Richard Craven’s 1985 mark for the most walks in a single-season in UT Martin history – to load the bases. After the second pitching change of the inning, Terry lined a single to center to score Stooksbury. Two batters later, Young scored on a wild pitch, extending the Skyhawk lead to 6-1.
From that point on, it was all Mills, as the Clarksville native 12 of the next 15 Colonels – allowing just three singles.
In the bottom of the eighth, Eastern Kentucky singled to lead off the inning, but Mills recovered to get two quick outs. After three consecutive singles made the score 6-2, Mills parted ways to a rousing ovation from the UT Martin fans behind the Skyhawk dugout. Entering the game with the bases loaded, Boshers got Michael Garcia to fly out on a nice running catch by Young to keep the Skyhawk lead at four.
Boshers started out strong in the ninth, getting a called third strike for the first out of the frame. He then tallied another strikeout and ended the game with a fielder’s choice to cap off a 14-pitch inning.
The Skyhawks will play tomorrow at 11 a.m. but will have to wait to see who their next opponent is. UT Martin will face the lowest seed remaining after Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay, Jacksonville State and Southeast Missouri play each other later this afternoon.