UT pounds Xavier, 17-1; sweep brings confidence

All that good stuff you heard about Tennessee's baseball team in the preseason was on display Sunday.

The Vols completed a three-game sweep of Xavier with a 17-1 victory in front of 1,732 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

UT (3-0) had 13 hits, and four pitchers limited the Musketeers (0-3) to four hits.

"Obviously to get the sweep is outstanding," UT coach Todd Raleigh said. "We played a great game all the way around."

UT will need that type of performance next week in a three-game series at Oregon State. The Beavers are ranked as high as No. 10 in preseason polls.

"I think it will prepare us for SEC play because they're a team that's won two national championships in the last four years," Raleigh said. "It's good for us. I think this was good for us to open the weekend, too. I'm excited about (the Oregon State series) and look forward to the challenge. I think we'll learn a lot about our team next week."

Senior right-hander Stephen McCray (1-0) went the first 5 1/3 innings. He gave up three hits and one run - a fifth-inning homer by Phil Bauer - with one walk and one strikeout.

"I felt good," McCray said. "I was able to change speeds well and keep the ball down, sort of keep the hitters off balance, moving the ball around and just relying on the movement of the ball and getting a lot of ground balls and letting my defense play behind me. I think you saw how good they are behind me today."

The Vols gave McCray a 3-0 lead in the first.

After that, McCray kept the Musketeers quiet with the help of a new pitch in his repertoire, a cut fastball. Of the 16 outs recorded by McCray, 12 were by ground balls.

McCray ended the second inning with a 5-4-3 double play. In the third, McCray retired Bauer on a ground out and got the next two batters on ground balls up the middle that were fielded by shortstop Zach Osborne for outs.

"I think we have one of the best infields in the country," McCray said.

UT left fielder P.J. Polk went 3-for-4 as his on-base percentage (.750) and batting average (.750) soared. Polk, batting leadoff, has reached base in 12 of his 16 plate appearances. He was picked off second base and caught stealing.

"It's kind of like in basketball, they say shooters shoot, even if they're not hot," Polk said. "It's part of the game. I'm not going to let that get me down. I'm just going to keep running."

Notebook: In the sixth, Charley Thurber hit UT's first pinch-hit grand slam since 2003. . . . Raleigh said first baseman Cody Hawn is day-to-day with a shoulder injury. . . . UT's 40 runs was the most in a three-game series since it scored 47 in 2005 against Radford.

Dave Link is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 10

HtownVol writes:

Good, I hope this team can be much better than the last few years. I expected Releigh to take us further than he has so far. Now that he haas some years here it is time to live up to the UT standards ( OK maybe baseball dont have many, but the University does.)

GO VOLS

lincolncovol writes:

we'll know more about our team after next weekend great job guys take that confidence and build on it.

Futurecoach16 writes:

Good job, Vols. Hopefully they can keep this confidence/momentum throughout next weekend as well. Amazing that they can win big without the big, as well as the close ones. Good luck next weekend.

VOLsince68 writes:

Great way to open the season fellas! Stay focused as you have a tough road test this weekend at Corvallis. Take it to them.

GO VOLS!!!!!!

frank_rizzo writes:

in response to HtownVol:

Good, I hope this team can be much better than the last few years. I expected Releigh to take us further than he has so far. Now that he haas some years here it is time to live up to the UT standards ( OK maybe baseball dont have many, but the University does.)

GO VOLS

UT baseball has a terrific tradition. We've had some outstanding players who went on to be MLB All-Stars and MVP's, we've graduated incredible young men, and we were able to witness multiple World Series teams in our recent past. The AD may not appreciate our history-obvious by the hire of our current coach and departure of Coach Delmonico-and its quality, but the UT fans love their baseball team.

utvols842008 (Inactive) writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The renovations to the stadium were Delmonico's idea. The plans were drawn up long before Delmonico was fired. Raleigh and Hamilton are simply riding Delmonico's ideas and dreams for Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

loudonloudmouth writes:

MIA Question....I could not happen to notice that Senior second baseman Cody Grisham did not play this weekend, Anyone got any info on why? Watching the fall and according to preseason releases he was a shoe in for the job.

Intheknow30 writes:

in response to loudonloudmouth:

MIA Question....I could not happen to notice that Senior second baseman Cody Grisham did not play this weekend, Anyone got any info on why? Watching the fall and according to preseason releases he was a shoe in for the job.

Among other interesting reasons, Khayyan started because Raleigh likes his speed. Grisham and Norfork are roughly on the same level from a hitting standpoint. Defensively, there is no question Grisham is better. But the speed aspect of Khayyan was enough to get him an opening day nod at second. Then he gets 4 hits on friday, and thats just hard to argue with. I think Cody will prove again this year that he is the best option at second, like he has done each of the past 2 years.

And he did get a couple at bats on Sunday. 0-2.

loudonloudmouth writes:

Intresting....you sit the most seasoned experienced (two year starter) player on the bench as all other returning starters play and this is the reason. The 4 for 5 outing by Norfolk was a bit misleading if you weren't there to see two hits given were in fact bobbled by the third baseman and a throwing error to first. Only one ball actually left the infield. It has to be something else that kept him from playing as he was second or third in the entire SEC so far as fielding in 2009 and among the top in hitting on the team in SEC play the past two years where it counts. It's gotta be something else for him not to be playing. Maybe an injury.

Intheknow30 writes:

in response to loudonloudmouth:

Intresting....you sit the most seasoned experienced (two year starter) player on the bench as all other returning starters play and this is the reason. The 4 for 5 outing by Norfolk was a bit misleading if you weren't there to see two hits given were in fact bobbled by the third baseman and a throwing error to first. Only one ball actually left the infield. It has to be something else that kept him from playing as he was second or third in the entire SEC so far as fielding in 2009 and among the top in hitting on the team in SEC play the past two years where it counts. It's gotta be something else for him not to be playing. Maybe an injury.

It was explained to Cody as another reason. I wont get into it but it wasn't justified. There seems to be a rift there between Raleigh and Cody. But I suppose you could say theres a rift between Raleigh and every player hes ever coached. But it seems that Cody's rift transfers to beginning year bench sitting. (he has started each of the past two years on the bench) I think this year will be no different than previous years. Cody will be the obvious choice at second at some point. His glove is too valuable.

But 4-5 is 4-5 no matter how you got there. Good players have the ability to find a way on. Hit balls hard on the ground and hustle to first. It could be argued his speed had a lot to do with those "errors".

And I'll say that I am a Cody Grisham fan. And I agree that it is crazy hes not playing. Just trying to give a little insight.

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