Baseball Highlights - Vanderbilt - Game 1, May 4, 2012
The outlet for frustration wasn't the same for everybody.
Nick Williams let his go three strikes at a time on the mound.
Drew Steckenrider got his in two-base chunks at the plate.
And coach Dave Serrano released some with one big win.
If the method wasn't identical across the board, each member of the Tennessee baseball team seemingly still found a way to unleash a bit of pent-up energy on Friday night. And the lifting of the weight that had built up during a seven-game skid in SEC play was clear after the Vols wrapped up their 8-2 victory over Vanderbilt at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
"I'm very proud of our guys," Serrano said. "There's no doubt, they've been down in the dumps. It's hard when you string together a lot of losses, and we needed this tonight. It couldn't have come against a better opponent, an instate team that we're fighting for a playoff berth against.
"It feels good to get in the (win) column again because it feels like it's been a long time since we've been able to do that."
The Vols (23-22, 8-14 SEC) obviously hadn't been enjoying the drought, but they had plenty to smile as they rained down on the Commodores (21-24, 9-13) in essentially every phase.
Williams turned in the finest outing of his career, fighting back from allowing a couple early runs by shutting down Vanderbilt for the rest of the evening until leaving with two outs in the ninth inning with a grueling 135 pitches and eight strikeouts to his credit.
Steckenrider broke out of his recent slump with four doubles, driv
ing in four runs to pace the offense after taking a more aggressive approach with his bat.
The rest of the lineup chipped in as well and three other Vols knocked in runs, with the improved offense combining with errorless defense to leave more than enough credit to spread around in a boisterous dugout.
"This was a huge win for us," said Williams, a graduate of Farragut High School. "We needed this. We're all having fun now. We know what it feels like to win now. We've just got to keep battling and come out tomorrow with a positive attitude. Get on these guys early and come out with a win.
"We just try to stay positive, work hard in practice and come out ready for the games and play as hard as we can. Today we showed them what we can do."
The Vols have two more chances to back it up against the Commodores, and they still can't afford to waste them even after opening up against their rivals with a feel-good victory.
UT still trails Vanderbilt by a game in the race for one of the final bids to the conference tournament, and it will still be shorthanded on the mound for the rest of the weekend. But the margin is already smaller for the Vols than it was heading into the series, and since Williams only left one out for the bullpen, the pitching staff certainly figures to benefit from his gritty performance.
Tennessee Baseball Post Game - Vanderbilt 5/4/2012
"We just came out tonight and just played our game," Steckenrider said. "We played Tennessee baseball, the way we should have been playing all year. The last seven (SEC) games haven't gone our way, of course, but you can't win them all.
"We definitely turned it around — and Nick Williams helped us do that on the mound."
Williams had plenty of company elsewhere. And every last one of the Vols appeared to be enjoying the relief.