Tennessee’s baseball team stranded 16 base runners Tuesday — including 11 in scoring position.
Yet that wasn’t the most telling statistic for UT coach Dave Serrano after a 7-5 loss to Longwood University at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
It was the Vols’ fifth consecutive loss.
“I think the stat of the day and the last few games is us not making plays,” Serrano said. “You saw a team that had not as good of pitching as we threw today. They threw strikes. We hit some balls hard. They made every play when we hit balls. I know it’s what cost us this (past) weekend at Vanderbilt and it cost us some today.”
UT (13-14) committed three errors, misplayed a couple of fly balls in the outfield, and failed to cover first base on a sacrifice bunt that went for a single.
Longwood (13-16), a Division I program since 2007 located in Farmville, Va., is in its first year in the Big South Conference. The Lancers also committed three errors, but made some big plays in the outfield.
Right fielder Brandon Delk made a sliding catch on Andrew Lee’s fly ball for the third out with the bases loaded in the fourth. Center fielder Colton Konvicka made a diving catch starting off the fifth on Pierce Bily’s line drive.
Left fielder Kyri Washington chased down Will Maddox’s fly ball for the third out with the bases loaded in the seventh.
“I don’t expect our guys to make diving catches like their guy did in center field,” Serrano said. “We’re just not making plays that we have to make to be a successful team, and that’s what’s killing us.”
One play was particularly glaring in the eighth after Washington hit a one-out homer off losing pitcher Trevor Charpie (2-3) for a 5-3 Longwood lead.
Travis Burnette reached on a bunt single, and Delk drew a walk.
Blake Ream followed with a hard grounder that got past Maddox at third base for an error and then rolled under the glove of left fielder Vance Vizcaino for another error. Two runs scored for a 7-3 lead.
“The ball gets down the line on Will and then it goes all the way to the wall,” Serrano said. “We misplay it down the left-field line. Instead of giving the guy a base hit, we give an extra 180 feet.”
After scoring twice in the eighth, UT had the winning run at the plate in the ninth in Scott Price, who grounded out to end the game.
“We left a lot of guys on base today,” Serrano said. “There’s no way to look around it.”
Tennessee starter Trevor Bettencourt pitched four innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits.
The Vols are back in action Friday for the start of a three-game series at home against South Carolina.