No. 3 seed UT Martin ready for fifth all-time appearance at OVC Baseball Championship Tournament

 No. 3 seed UT Martin ready for fifth all-time appearance at OVC Baseball Championship Tournament

Fresh off its best OVC finish in school history, the UT Martin baseball squad heads to the OVC Championship held at Mtn Dew Park in Marion, Illinois.

The No. 3 seed Skyhawks (22-33, 14-10 OVC) will practice Tuesday at Mtn Dew Park in preparation for their tournament opener Wednesday night at 7:30.

UT Martin will take on the winner of the No. 6 Tennessee Tech/No. 7 SIUE matchup, which will be played at 12:30.

The Skyhawks wrapped up the regular season as the OVC leader in batting average in league play (.329 – 20 points higher than second place) for the first time in school history. In league play, UT Martin also topped the OVC in on-base percentage (.409), runs scored (191), hits (276), doubles (63), saves (six) and fewest home runs allowed (24).

Overall, the Skyhawks rank second in the school’s NCAA Division I Era (since 1993) in runs scored (344), doubles (114), stolen bases (72) and saves (12).

The deep UT Martin lineup features Andrew Fernandez (OVC hits leader with 79, becoming the first Skyhawk to accomplish that feat since All-American Bryant Jones in 2004) and Mac Danford (third in OVC play with a .414 batting average), who are separated by one point for the team lead in batting average.

OVC stolen base leader Caleb Hobson ranks fifth in the league with 54 runs scored while Zac Rice ranked in the top-five in the OVC in batting average (.400) and slugging percentage (.754) in league play. Blaze Bell (.391 batting average against OVC pitching), Hunter McLean (fourth in the OVC with a .469 on-base percentage), Will Smith (.307 batting average while mostly batting out of the 3-hole) and Jack Culumovic (team-high 10 home runs) have also heavily contributed to the team success.

On the mound, Tristan Walton ranked in the top-five in OVC play in strikeouts (44, fourth) and ERA (3.75, fifth) with three wins and a save over eight appearances. Seth Petry led the OVC with 14 games started and ranked eighth with a team-best 67.1 innings pitched while Eric Steensma (eighth in the OVC with a 5.07 ERA) and Jordan Armstrong (co-team high four victories) also threw a bulk of the starters’ innings.

Out of the bullpen, freshman Zach Wager posted two wins with a team-best four saves and a 2.30 ERA over 43 innings of work. Campbell Cleveland added a pair of wins and three saves with a 3.28 ERA while J. Henry Hobson (1-0, three saves, 4.05 ERA in OVC play) additionally excelled in high-leverage situations.

All games during the 2023 OVC Championship tournament will be streamed live on ESPN+.

(UTM Sports Information)