Belmont strikes UT gold, 6-3

Vols can't overcome 14 Ks

Tennessee's Khayyan Norfork, 8, and Matt Duffy walk off the field after the Vols' 6-3 home loss to Belmont on Tuesday.

Photo by Tiffany Esters, UTsports.com

Tennessee's Khayyan Norfork, 8, and Matt Duffy walk off the field after the Vols' 6-3 home loss to Belmont on Tuesday.

The latest Tennessee outing was a matter of simple math: 14 Ks equal one more disappointing L.

Cold and rainy conditions didn't do the Vols any favors as they wrapped up their non-conference schedule on Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

But the weather didn't seem to bother Belmont nearly as much as it did UT, which looked lost at the plate while striking out 14 times in a 6-3 loss that provided a relatively new offensive struggle in a season full of them.

"Is that what we had? It's not easy to do that," Vols coach Todd Raleigh said. "And we haven't really struck out a lot as a team this season. It did seem like we had a lot tonight, guys kind of over-swinging a little bit, some of them.

"And, I mean, you've got a pitcher (Drew Steckenrider) playing right (field), that doesn't help. You've got a shortstop (Zach Osborne) that can't hit, he's got to switch-hit and he's not a switch-hitter. Some of that, what are you going to do? It's tough, but still we had a few too many tonight and it hurt us."

The Vols (23-28) spread them out over the course of the evening against five Belmont (30-23) pitchers, striking out at least once in all nine innings and going down in order in the second inning to set an early tone.

UT scratched out five hits, pushed across all three runs with a productive frame in the fifth and for the most part had solid efforts from its bullpen. But with a season-high 14 batters going down swinging, looking or fouling off a two-strike bunt attempt, the Vols were never able to consistently generate any kind of assistance for the pitching staff.

"I think it's over-swinging," Raleigh said. "I told them after the game - when you try to do too much, anybody that has ever played knows that if you're trying to hit a home run, you don't. The only time you ever hit a home run is when you're not trying to.

"We don't necessarily always have to over-swing and get two strikes and let them throw a better pitch. Every pitch that's thrown in the world is not a home run or double. One might just be a single the other way, that kind of deal. We've got to be content with taking that all the time and not over-swinging, so that's a lot of it."

Everybody in the lineup gave Raleigh a teaching point heading into the season-ending series starting Thursday against Auburn, with all nine starters going down at least once and four of them ending the game with multiple strikeouts.

That problem kept the Vols from ever offering much help to guys like Zach Godley, who entered the game in relief in the sixth inning and offered three scoreless innings with five strikeouts to keep the score manageable late and keep his team in the game.

But UT never even put a runner on base when it was batting in support of Godley, going down in order three consecutive times with five batters going down on strikes.

"That's a lot higher than it's been, higher than I can ever remember," UT catcher Ethan Bennett said. "I don't know what it was, and I had two of them. I don't know.

"I mean, you can definitely pick up emotions off different people, whether it's negative or positive, it's definitely there. That's always there, (but) I know I was over-swinging. I was pulling off balls, and I wasn't making good swings."

Bennett had plenty of company, and it produced an increasingly familiar result for the Vols. The formula for creating it was just a little different.

Austin Ward covers Tennesse e football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 78

VolBall55 writes:

Let me guess. Did Belmont throw their ACE!?!!

Coach and every kid in the program need to go except toles and bennett. None of the rest of them are SEC talent

mbain13 writes:

man, there is an excuse for every lose it seems. Why can't he say we just suck. Wow.

LJS1984 writes:

Just saw that ETSU beat eighth ranked Georgia Tech tonight. Now we see why Raleigh took the Bucs off the UT schedule. I guess he figured fellow A-Sun school Belmont was more of an automatic win? Not so much.

arkyvol writes:

trap game, no doubt.

HendersonvilleVOL writes:

Has anyone thought about former VOL and big leaguer Chris Burke to take the head job if/when they fire CTR. Could be a good fit...

BillVol writes:

That's one of the worst headlines ever. I don't understand it.

LJS1984 writes:

Newsflash...Other programs have the same injury problems and still win against teams they are supposed to beat. An SEC school like Tennessee should have been able to start it's backups and beat a Belmont. Matter of fact they should have been able to start every pitcher on the lineup in the field and pick up a W. Too many excuses. If I was Raleigh I would just quit doing interviews. He's hurting himself with all of these excuses. Hate if for him, but it's time for him and Hamilton to move back to Western North Carolina, perhaps to Brevard? Maybe they need a baseball coach and AD?

LJS1984 writes:

in response to HendersonvilleVOL:

Has anyone thought about former VOL and big leaguer Chris Burke to take the head job if/when they fire CTR. Could be a good fit...

He has NO coaching experience. Terrible hire at the moment, but probably one of the only people that would consider a coaching job offered by Mike Hamilton.

FWBVol writes:

Come on guys, everyone knows the problem was Belmont threw five different pitchers to keep UT batters (I refuse to call them hitters after 14 Ks) off balance. Just about the time they had one guy figured out Belmont brought in a new pitcher. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. It makes as much sense as any of the excuses Todd Raleigh has made the last month.

We have now lost 13 of the last 14 games and Mike Hamilton has yet to make a public statement about the state of the program. Even if we sweep Auburn (fat chance there), we still finish the season two games under .500.

Raleigh had one winning season, his second year when were somthing like 30-26 and has never had a winning record in conference play or made it to the conference tournament.

Hamilton owes Phillip Fulmer an apology if he doesn't fire Todd Raleigh. Heck, Hamilton should probably apologize to Fulmer for not firing Raliegh after last season. I'm not saying it wasn't time for Fulmer to go because I still have mixed emotions about that. But if Fulmer deserved to get canned Raleigh deserves it several times over.

roobomb writes:

The terms were set before the season began: make it to the SEC Tourney, or go fishin'. Time to get out the rod and reel...

FearlessFreep writes:

No need to delay the inevitable. Pull the ripcord onRaleigh now.

HooRay_Vol writes:

"You've got a shortstop (Zach Osborne) that can't hit, he's got to switch-hit and he's not a switch-hitter. Some of that, what are you going to do?"

You are the coach aren't you? How about telling the guy not to switch hit? How about getting them a little....no, a LOT more batting practice?

dvhill100 writes:

Stick a fork in them, they are done like dinner.

VolzsFan writes:

in response to LJS1984:

Newsflash...Other programs have the same injury problems and still win against teams they are supposed to beat. An SEC school like Tennessee should have been able to start it's backups and beat a Belmont. Matter of fact they should have been able to start every pitcher on the lineup in the field and pick up a W. Too many excuses. If I was Raleigh I would just quit doing interviews. He's hurting himself with all of these excuses. Hate if for him, but it's time for him and Hamilton to move back to Western North Carolina, perhaps to Brevard? Maybe they need a baseball coach and AD?

Not true. His failure has nothing to do with mid-week games. You do not understand college baseball.
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/scoreb...

As you can see from tonights scores, ETSU beat Ga Tech, Florida Atlantic beat Miami, Jacksonville pounded Florida. In baseball, no one cares about mid week games except the mid major. All they are for is to see live pitching during the week. The big boys lose these games all the time. Tenn is no better than all those ranked teams losing in terms of expectations. The real list of why he should be fired and never hired is very long. But mid week games are not on that list.

hnkrath9 writes:

I said it in a post last week and got knocked for it. I will preface my statement by saying that TR has not done a good job. But the players in this program are not good enough. It's not a knock against them, but it's a reflection of the below average recruiting of this coaching staff. The players they brought in were not physically good enough to compete in the SEC. By the way these players have quit, the staff also failed to identify players who were mentally tough enough to withstand losing.....It's an all out failure in every aspect of this program

madmax22 writes:

in response to HendersonvilleVOL:

Has anyone thought about former VOL and big leaguer Chris Burke to take the head job if/when they fire CTR. Could be a good fit...

Jeff Pickler, a former Cypress Charger, has joined the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Minor League Development staff as the Roving Infield Coordinator. Pickler, an All-American at the University of Tennessee, played at Cypress in 1995 for his father, head coach Scott Pickler. Pickler transitions to the Angels after two years as an Assistant Coach for University of Arizona.

Pickler has coached major league players Buster Posey and Gordon Bekham in the prestigious Cape Code league.

After Cypress, Pickler earned All-American and Southeastern Conference Player of the Year awards at University of Tennessee. He was then selected in the 11th round of the 1998 draft by the Brewers winning a Triple-A World Series Championship. He also spent time with the Rangers and the Rockies. He has spent the last couple years working with the Arizona Diamondbacks as an Advance Scout and Staff Consultant. Pickler still holds the Cypress College record for triples in a season.

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to madmax22:

Jeff Pickler, a former Cypress Charger, has joined the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Minor League Development staff as the Roving Infield Coordinator. Pickler, an All-American at the University of Tennessee, played at Cypress in 1995 for his father, head coach Scott Pickler. Pickler transitions to the Angels after two years as an Assistant Coach for University of Arizona.

Pickler has coached major league players Buster Posey and Gordon Bekham in the prestigious Cape Code league.

After Cypress, Pickler earned All-American and Southeastern Conference Player of the Year awards at University of Tennessee. He was then selected in the 11th round of the 1998 draft by the Brewers winning a Triple-A World Series Championship. He also spent time with the Rangers and the Rockies. He has spent the last couple years working with the Arizona Diamondbacks as an Advance Scout and Staff Consultant. Pickler still holds the Cypress College record for triples in a season.

So Pickler was one of the rappers from Cypress Hill ?Cool
You dont know what MH might do.He might give TR a contract extension and a raise.You never know what that idiot will do.

tenuhc writes:

Bring Rick Honeycutt back to Knoxville.

SummittsCourt writes:

Every season just gets to be more embarrassing than the last. I'm disgusted!

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Duke, please keep up. Bruce Pearl had to be fired as did your buddy Phil. And your buddy Phil won one championship and nothing after that in 10 years. So get over him. Also keep up, Hamilton does NOT hire and fire. He is told by those above him when to do so.

easleychuck writes:

Did Raleigh think to gather the team together as soon as he spotted " the over-swinging" and tell them to adjust?Just a thought.

Naw, never mind.

tgiles1944#654264 writes:

Belmont - Do they have scholarship players?

THEKIDWISCONSIN writes:

There is one series left...there is no way CTR should be allowed to finish out the season.

Let the kids play their hearts out one last weekend for someone who understands the game and so they can get a jump start on next season.

I've never been so disappointed in a coach and the incompetent AD that hired him.

I look forward to the coaching search this off season...BUT ONLY IF HAMILTON HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!

C'mon guys, heads up and give Auburn hell for Tennessee, not the lame duck coach that has lead you nowhere!

Go Vols!

DingoVol writes:

in response to madmax22:

Jeff Pickler, a former Cypress Charger, has joined the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Minor League Development staff as the Roving Infield Coordinator. Pickler, an All-American at the University of Tennessee, played at Cypress in 1995 for his father, head coach Scott Pickler. Pickler transitions to the Angels after two years as an Assistant Coach for University of Arizona.

Pickler has coached major league players Buster Posey and Gordon Bekham in the prestigious Cape Code league.

After Cypress, Pickler earned All-American and Southeastern Conference Player of the Year awards at University of Tennessee. He was then selected in the 11th round of the 1998 draft by the Brewers winning a Triple-A World Series Championship. He also spent time with the Rangers and the Rockies. He has spent the last couple years working with the Arizona Diamondbacks as an Advance Scout and Staff Consultant. Pickler still holds the Cypress College record for triples in a season.

Max,
You and I are thinking the same way. I have a friend who is the infield coordinator for a major league team and he also manages their Rookie League team. That is the kind of person to bring in as a coach. They can actually TEACH baseball and make kids better. They also are able to tell kids they know how to get them to Pro Baseball. Forget getting an old re-tread college coach, get a young, baseball savvy pro guy in here to build a program from the ground up.

eduardo writes:

Hey Rucker whose worse your cubbies or the vols?????

Vols20 writes:

Bobby Pierce, Troy University, would be a great fit a Tennessee. This guy can recruit and coach. Trust me!

brod writes:

bad, bad, bad.

DeeBee writes:

Thanks for totally destroying our program, Todd And Mike. What an embarrasment you guys have created. Alan Cockrell??

RoadTrip writes:

I withheld judgment of the hire during Season 1 of the great TR Experiment. Since observing that season and his relationship with the players, fans and media I have said the guy cannot get it done. Having played the game at the D-1 level and grown up playing against numerous Major and Minor Leaguers you see what it takes to make it as a player and a coach. It did not take long to discover that I was not good enough to stay with it despite my love for the game. TR was an overachiever for his talent/abilities until he was hired here. He was destined for failure Day 1. It was the UTAD's and his fault for offering and accepting the role. The inadequacy was at the UTAD level that would endorse a hire of this type without doing more due diligence. You simply have to recognize the personal limitations of an individual as a prospective employer.

I really wish KNS would just report the results and not interview TR. He embarrasses himself and UT every time he responds to the media. KNS has to know that and should show some class as this mess winds down.

PHAT_VOL writes:

AGAIN !! Hamilton had no problem firing CPF in the middle of the season.
GO VOLS !!

TennVol01 writes:

When will Hamilton make the bleeding stop??

arkyvol writes:

you think the vols could run down that psychologist the knights used in 'the natural' to give them a pep talk on the psychology of losing?

FearlessFreep writes:

Note to Jimmy Cheek: This is the easiest hire you've ever made. Call Phil garner and hire whomever he recommends.

No need to give Hamilton a chance to screw it up a second time.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to madmax22:

Jeff Pickler, a former Cypress Charger, has joined the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Minor League Development staff as the Roving Infield Coordinator. Pickler, an All-American at the University of Tennessee, played at Cypress in 1995 for his father, head coach Scott Pickler. Pickler transitions to the Angels after two years as an Assistant Coach for University of Arizona.

Pickler has coached major league players Buster Posey and Gordon Bekham in the prestigious Cape Code league.

After Cypress, Pickler earned All-American and Southeastern Conference Player of the Year awards at University of Tennessee. He was then selected in the 11th round of the 1998 draft by the Brewers winning a Triple-A World Series Championship. He also spent time with the Rangers and the Rockies. He has spent the last couple years working with the Arizona Diamondbacks as an Advance Scout and Staff Consultant. Pickler still holds the Cypress College record for triples in a season.

Bout time someone throws a name out there that makes sense. I keep hearing all these "big splash" names who simply are not gonna come here with the current state of the program.

PERSONALLY I want Ken Campbell from the JUCO ranks. People think just because he's in the JUCO ranks that he's some joke of a coach. I've learned 2 things... Great coaches can coach and WINNERS WIN, PERIOD. He's right down the interstate in Morristown Tn, he's a Tennessee guy being from Johnson City. He did a good job at ETSU as well, only leaving because at the time Walters State showed more dedication to having an ELITE program than ETSU. An .814 win % is unheard of regardless what level. In 11 yrs at WS he's playing .814 ball with 4 JUCO WS trips, winning one JUCO NC with a 61-8 record. He averages a 47-10 record annually and his players are sought after by SEC schools, mid majors, and MLB. The man is a proven recruiter, more importantly he has GREAT relations with the HS coaches throughout the state. He also has strong ties to Florida. Rather than a bigger name who might have been a positions coach at the MLB level, why not go for a guy who has coached, recruited, and won at the college level. Again, it's JUCO, I know. But Vanderbilt, UT, Ole Miss, Auburn, Memphis don't have a problem recruiting his 2 yr JUCO stars, nor do the Major Leagues. An arguement could be made that he has made WS the best JUCO program in the nation. He's also the only JUCO coach in the state to have won a NC. The man can coach simple and plain. With an .814 win %, I'm confident he could play .620-.650 ball at UT. His 47 win per yr average could translate to 30+ wins per yr and at least get us to Hoover giving us a puncher's chance. Hell that's all I'm really asking for. Simply put, he could take his JUCO team and STOMP UT, then take UT's roster and STOMP his own JUCO squad. And for those wanting a "big splash", it's not happening. IMO, getting a guy like this who can restore the winning tradition is the only way we will eventually get a big name guy. Will it happen? Uh no. Hamilton will hire some unqualified goof ball. HONESTLY, I'm not convinced Hamilton is gonna fire CTR. I think he's gonna let him ride out his contract.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He's actually a good coach. BUT had ETSU given Ken Campbell the support they are giving their current coach, their program would be in even better shape, and Campbell would be at a major program if desired. They KNOW they messed up letting him leave to Walters State. HOWEVER, I do like your thinking. I'm not saying the ETSU coach is the answer, because the Walters State coach can out coach him simple and plain. But you, like me, realize that baseball is a different animal. You don't always have to have the rock star big school big name guy. Baseball is LESS dependent on SUPERIOR athletes when compared to football and basketball and MORE dependent on SUPERIOR coaching and the ability to "coach'em up". Yeah you need good players, but a great coach will put W's on the board regardless.

basketballfever writes:

FIRE RALEIGH & HAMILTON....This should be his last flop of his unsuccessful reign as our AD. Hire Fulmer as AD and try to find a quality baseball coach. I don't understand how both Raleigh & Hamilton are still employed...If I performed so poorly, I would expect to be FIRED!!!

Volunatic writes:

I understand an advantage can be gained by a guy being able to switch hit based on the pitcher he's facing, but if a guy isn't a good switch hitter, why make him do it? Doesn't make sense.

Volunatic writes:

in response to HooRay_Vol:

"You've got a shortstop (Zach Osborne) that can't hit, he's got to switch-hit and he's not a switch-hitter. Some of that, what are you going to do?"

You are the coach aren't you? How about telling the guy not to switch hit? How about getting them a little....no, a LOT more batting practice?

Exactly.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I understand an advantage can be gained by a guy being able to switch hit based on the pitcher he's facing, but if a guy isn't a good switch hitter, why make him do it? Doesn't make sense.

Excellent question, I was thinking the same thing. What in the hell does he think he's doing? On top of that, why don't we have a back-up who can play right field? Who's fault is that CTR? Who's fault is that?

I am going to cheer on our Lady Vols friday, and I hope all of you do too. They got jobbed by getting a 14 seed which keeps them from having a Super-Regional here. But I'm thinking we need to fill the stadium for the girls and leave the stadium empty for the guys. Poor Mike Hamilton doesn't seem to understand the damage done by losing all the time. But when he doesn't sell cokes and hot dogs he tends to act a bit more swiftly....See Phillip Fulmer...

NashvillePreds writes:

Embarrassing... yet again

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

OK everyone, calm down. It's still not too late to salvage this season. We can still turn this thing around. We're sooo close to being there. OK, I know that's stupid, but I thought there should at least be one positive post.

hnkrath9 writes:

Jeff Pickler is a great Vol but head coach he is not. Now as an asst coach, he could be great. The only names that should be considered are Pat Murphy, Dave Serrano, Gilmore, McDonnel, Penders...the first 3 have Omaha success.... the other 3 have been hot lately... Garner, Honeycutt, and Burke are not the answer!!!

ddt#1340890 writes:

Do not worry, with our social engineering Chancellor, Jimmy "Chubby" Cheeks, all sports programs will be in the bottom tier soon. Our state legislators better get their act in gear and remove this cancer before he does permanent damage.

rdickens#232792 writes:

Thank goodness for tennis, golf and Lady Vol sports. Some place to wear my orange, But...we will be back!

philgreen5#410561 writes:

Wow.... we look like the jr varsity playing the varsity!

feathersax writes:

in response to tenuhc:

Bring Rick Honeycutt back to Knoxville.

+1 This makes more sense than anything. He really wanted the job before, too. Gotta get rid of both CTR & Hambone

madmax22 writes:

in response to hnkrath9:

Jeff Pickler is a great Vol but head coach he is not. Now as an asst coach, he could be great. The only names that should be considered are Pat Murphy, Dave Serrano, Gilmore, McDonnel, Penders...the first 3 have Omaha success.... the other 3 have been hot lately... Garner, Honeycutt, and Burke are not the answer!!!

Pat Murphy has some NCAA issues, plus he just became mgr of a minor league team. Dave Serrano has a questionable situation with his degree (for some reason University's take issue with that)

Pompey writes:

.....to have a winning baseball program one must have a top flight coach....to hire such a coach one must have a top flight AD....any questions?

FWBVol writes:

It is now just before noon in Knoxville and I'm still wondering why Mike Hamilton hasn't pulled the trigger yet on Raleigh today.

It really should be simple for Hamilton to call Raleigh to his office and speak the two words all of us want to hear about this coach, "You're fired."

There is no explanation needed as Raleigh's body of work the last four years speaks for itself.

VolunteerLifer writes:

The best thing in this article is the announcement that the season will mercifully end after the Auburn series. Thank the Lord for that.

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