BASEBALL: Tops win Tuesday, host Ohio tomorrow

Amber North

It didn’t take the Hilltoppers long to erase 0-3 from their memory banks.

Just two days after being swept by Nevada-Las Vegas, Western capped its first victory Tuesday night by defeating Tennessee-Martin 8-2.

“We performed the way we were capable of performing,” coach Joel Murrie said. “Whatever frustrations or lack of confidence we had in Las Vegas helped put things in perspective and we did an outstanding job.”

Western (1-3) immediately put runs on the board when junior first baseman Marcus Ross slugged a three-run home run with just one out in the first inning.

Senior second baseman Matt Johnston also had a home run and three RBI for the game.

Freshman pitcher Kenny Griffin (1-0) had an impressive first start, throwing six innings and allowing only one run. Griffin also forced six Skyhawk batters into strikeouts.

Denes Field will finally be used when the Tops take on Ohio tomorrow. The Bobcats were preseason favorites to win the Mid-Atlantic Conference title.

“We’re more talented than they are, but they have two or three very solid pitchers that can neutralize,” Johnston said.

One of the efficient pitchers on Ohio’s staff is senior Marc Cornell, who was named the Preseason MAC Player of the Year. Cornell was drafted in the fifth round by the Cincinnati Reds last year, but this year he’s projected to go within the first two rounds in June’s Free Agent Draft.

Another standout to look for is junior catcher Ben Crabtree. He is coming out of spending his summer playing in the Cape Cod League, an amateur college league in Cape Cod, Mass. Crabtree was an all-star there and collected a school record 91 hits last season.

“(Ohio coach) Joe Carbone recruits very good talent,” Murrie said. “We knew they were very good when we scheduled them – we have not backed off competition in the early season.”

Although those facts are hard to sneeze at, Western still has played four games more than Ohio has played all season, as well as having home field advantage.

“I think it’s important for everyone to execute,” said sophomore third baseman Tim Grogan, who leads the team with a .400 batting average. “We need to get a few wins and hopefully the home crowd would help us get things going.”

The first game of the three-game series begins at 2 p.m tomorrow. It continues Saturday at noon and will wrap it up on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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