Skyhawk Baseball hosting OVC newcomer Southern Indiana this weekend

 Skyhawk Baseball hosting OVC newcomer Southern Indiana this weekend

For the first time in 23 years, UT Martin will host the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles on the baseball diamond as the OVC foes collide for a three-game series Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The Skyhawks and Southern Indiana faced each other 11 times from 1990 until 2000 but haven’t played since.

UT Martin is 4-2 in home matchups during the all-time series, having not lost to the Screaming Eagles at Skyhawk Field since April 10, 1990.

UT Martin (9-25, 4-5 OVC) boasts a dynamic offense as the Skyhawks are hitting .295 in OVC play while ranking second in the league in runs (6.7 per game), on-base percentage (.406), home runs (10) and walks drawn (5.4 per game). Mac Danford, who had four hits with two homers and five RBI’s just last night against Austin Peay, ranks sixth in the OVC in batting average (.444) and eighth in slugging percentage (.741) against league competition.

Overall, Hunter McLean is amongst the OVC leaders in on-base percentage (.509, second), times hit by pitch (12, third) and batting average (.342, seventh). Andrew Fernandez checks in at second with 10 doubles and third with 42 hits while Caleb Hobson ranks in the top-10 in the league in stolen bases (23, first), triples (3, fourth), walks (23, fifth) and runs scored (27, 10th).

On the hill, senior right-hander Seth Petry (2-3, 5.23 ERA) ranks fifth in the OVC with 43 innings pitched and is tabbed to start the series opener against Southern Indiana. A probable starting pitcher has not been announced for Saturday but redshirt junior righty Eric Steensma (2-2, 5.82 ERA) will toe the rubber for Sunday’s finale for the Skyhawks.

Campbell Cleveland (3.45 ERA, third in the OVC with three saves), J. Henry Hobson (two saves in OVC play), Zach Wager (1.98 ERA in 27.1 innings), Tristan Walton (31 strikeouts in 31.2 frames) and Tucker Reed (team-best 13 appearances, 4.05 ERA since March 8) gives UT Martin plenty of formidable options out of the bullpen.

Meanwhile, the Screaming Eagles (9-23, 2-7 OVC) have relied on speed so far in 2023 as they top the OVC in triples (12), stolen base attempts (58) and sacrifice flies (16). Southern Indiana is coming off a four-game homestand which included an impressive victory over defending OVC champion Southeast Missouri last Friday.

Preseason All-OVC honoree Lucas McNew is capping off a remarkable career as a Screaming Eagle as he ranks in the program’s top-10 in home runs (21, sixth), RBI’s (147, seventh) and doubles (45, 10th). He is one of three Southern Indiana hitters with 20 or more RBI’s this spring, joining Caleb Niehaus (.309 batting average, nine extra-base hits) and Tucker Ebest (team-highs of five homers, 28 RBI’s).

Sophomore right-hander Gavin Morris (0-1, 2.88 ERA) and freshman southpaw Will Kiesel (1-2, 7.23 ERA) are expected to start on the mound in Game 1 and 2, respectively. The Screaming Eagles have not yet determined a starting pitcher for Sunday. Left-hander Blake Ciuffetelli leads the OVC with 17 appearances out of the Southern Indiana bullpen.

(UTM Sports Information)