Farragut's Jordan Cooper earns save as Middle Tennessee tops Vols, 7-6

KNOXVILLE, TN - April 30, 2013:  Derek Lance #17 of the Tennessee Volunteers slides into home to score a run during the baseball game between the University Tennessee Volunteers and the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Matthew DeMaria/Tennessee Athletics

Photo by Matthew DeMaria/Tennessee Athlet, University of Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, TN - April 30, 2013: Derek Lance #17 of the Tennessee Volunteers slides into home to score a run during the baseball game between the University Tennessee Volunteers and the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Matthew DeMaria/Tennessee Athletics

Middle Tennessee State senior reliever Jordan Cooper, a former Farragut High School star, stamped out two Tennessee rallies to earn the save as the Blue Raiders beat UT 7-6 on Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

For MTSU (25-22), it was the fifth win in a row against the Vols (18-25) and the second in a week. Tennessee fell 11-5 last Tuesday in Murfreesboro.

It was especially sweet for Cooper, a big lefty who began his career at Ole Miss, detoured at a junior college and then transferred to Middle Tennessee, where he will end his career undefeated against his hometown team.

“It’s definitely nice,” said Cooper, who had several family members in attendance. “I didn’t expect to be here, but everything happens for a reason, and here I am playing against UT.”

Cooper entered the game with a 7-5 lead and escaped jams in the eighth and ninth.

In the eighth, UT left fielder Vincent Jackson smacked a leadoff triple into the left-field corner. He scored on a groundout, but the Vols couldn’t manage another run.

In the ninth, Cooper was one strike away from ending the game against former Farragut teammate Ethan Bennett, but gave up a 3-2 walk to put runners at first and second. Two pitchers were warming up in the Raiders’ bullpen, but coach Jim McGuire opted to stick with Cooper against Jackson, a left-handed batter.

“We had confidence in Jordan, and we definitely wanted him to face the left-hander,” McGuire said. “That was Jordan’s last guy no matter what happened.”

Jackson hit a soft liner to center to end the game.

While MTSU had four home runs — two by Trent Miller and two by Jake Ellison — the Vols amassed most of their runs with aggressive baserunning.

A double steal and throwing error on MTSU’s catcher fueled a four-run fourth inning. The Vols scored in the first inning on a daring steal of home plate by Will Maddox.

Maddox swiped home even though MTSU pitcher Kooper Kessler was working out the stretch, something that seldom happens.

“(Kessler) was just not paying attention to the runner at third,” McGuire said. “(Maddox) extended his lead, extended it some more and then saw (Kessler) look in for the sign and took off. Our catcher was on his heels. It was our fault. We were caught napping, but it was a great play.”

UT coach Dave Serrano said Maddox made a dash for home without prompting from the third-base coach or a sign from the dugout.

“Will did that on his own,” Serrano said. “I think that was the first time I’ve ever seen a (pitcher) working out of the stretch and the runner goes right in his face. Will plays the game extremely hard and sometimes he does some things that we scratch our head about. But I’d like to have a lot of pitchers who play the game like that.”

Of the Vols’ six pitchers, Eric Martin (two scoreless innings, three strikeouts) was most effective. Reliever Trevor Charpie (2-4), who allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in 2/3 innings, took the loss. Reliever Drake Owenby made his first appearance since March 29 after serving a suspension for a DUI arrest. He allowed a solo homer in one inning of work. Starter Blake Thomas allowed three runs in three innings.

“It was about the pitching tonight,” Serrano said. “The difference tonight is they were able to execute off-speed pitches behind in the count for strikes and we didn’t.”

UT plays host to Georgia for a three-game series beginning Friday. The Vols (6-15 in the SEC) are battling the Bulldogs (4-16) and three other league bottom-dwellers for the final spots in the SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala. Currently, the Vols are 13th in the SEC and Georgia is last. The top 12 teams make the tournament.

“It’s not about first place like I wish it was, but it’s about saving our lives and our goal of getting into Hoover,” Serrano said.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee athletics. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 24

us43137415#376444 writes:

CDS has got one more year to turn this program around.

In the first two years, there has been zero improvement.

Maybe in two years, they'll go after a baseball coach that's already winning in the SEC.

What they should have done in the first place.

JimmyJoe writes:

If we can't do any better than this... I say drop the program.

flatrock writes:

Black helmets, black sleeves, black socks, black belts, black piping...Serrano's Vols wear more black than Vandy, South Carolina and Mizzou- and black is a school color for those three...Note to Dave: the brand is Tennessee Orange and White!

claiborneh writes:

Agree. If you can't win, at least wear Orange and White instead of the funeral colors they wear to the daily graveside service of losing habits

THEKIDWISCONSIN writes:

Can...not...figure...this...team...out!

CDS is a proven winner...albeit out west. That being said, I'd agree he's got next year yet. But then the pressure is on. Raleigh had three years and showed nothing. CDS is half way there. Still support him, but show me some improvement the rest of this season and then Hoover is an absolute must next season, no questions.

Go BaseVOLS!

PS - I dig the black shoes...it just looks better and if you look good, you feel good & if you feel good you play good...in theory LOL

MikeInTN writes:

Big brother...the largest university in the state... kicked sand in little brothers face...again!!!!

Ichabod writes:

in response to flatrock:

Black helmets, black sleeves, black socks, black belts, black piping...Serrano's Vols wear more black than Vandy, South Carolina and Mizzou- and black is a school color for those three...Note to Dave: the brand is Tennessee Orange and White!

Since we can't talk about real baseball, any semblance of improvement or enthusiasm within the team, I agree - let's get the uniform thing straight. They are USFL awful. And hey Coach, since you have done absolutely nothing toward improving the team, how about getting with the program, lose the rapper lid, as well as the Phil Fulmer pullover. At least dress like a Manager. This program is just AWFUL, and don't give us any line about, "Our goal of making it to Hoover", like you will have done something special if you sneak in. The league increased the field by 50% (8 to 12), so getting in this year versus last means absolutely nothing. Over the past 12 months, the team is playing .300 ball, (that's right,.300)and is now 4-16 in their last 20.
"Get to Hoover", yeah right.
Man up, Serrano - you simply are not getting it done.

huntined#565710 writes:

MTSU owns the VOLS!!! hard to think that they have better players then TENN. No improvement in baseball period.

Sir_Spanky writes:

Embarrassing. But as long as Dave and everybody else over there are getting their extensions, bonuses and tee times to their liking, then I guess it's alright.

SummittsCourt writes:

Year two has been a disappointment no doubt, but let's keep in mind he is basically playing Todd Raleigh's recruits and not his own players yet.

jojo writes:

Cooper is from Farragut and Jake Ellison is from Morristown East.... Ellison had 2 HR's last night and 3 hits - one a home run - last week against the Vols.... sad they don't take a closer look at some of the local guys that grew up dreaming about playing for the Vols.

DC82_Vol writes:

How embarrassing and difficult this must be for Serrano. I blame Hamilton for allowing the TN Men's sports to get in this bad of shape. Thanks Mike, we TN fans appreciate everything you did for the donors and not the fans.

rtrchatt writes:

Farragut High rocks...

Banner writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Year two has been a disappointment no doubt, but let's keep in mind he is basically playing Todd Raleigh's recruits and not his own players yet.

Really???? Godley, Williams, Bennett and Maddox are Raleigh's recruit and players. My question to you is where is this team without these players. Godley and Williams are the 2 best pitchers by far, bennett has the most pop, and Maddox is their best player and hitter. Quit making excuses for CDS and get your facts straight.

Banner writes:

Let's not forget CDS dismissed Andrew Toles, son of UT great Alvin Toles. Toles should have been a junior this year for the Big Orange. He was drafted in the 3rd round of MLB draft last season. He would have been one of the top players in the SEC this season. this team would be 8-10 games better with him. I find it ironic that the player who performed the worse in last nights loss was the Owenby kid. He got a DUI a month ago but he is still on team and playing. CDS has a double standard and his players know it. They quit on him 6 weeks ago. Thank goodness for Willams and Godley and thank goodness Georgia is coming to town because they are worse than us!

laraccoon writes:

PANIC!

maciste54 writes:

Patience !

Volbound1700 writes:

Wow problem must be pitching to give up 7 runs. We should be shutting these teams out.

Cane73 writes:

Jake would have came to UT and paid his own way if the coaches would have given him the time of day ! And to beat it we started an outfielder that was hitting .087.

BrassMonkey writes:

I find it hard to believe that Dave Hart gets a raise and our Men's athletic program as a whole is in a much worse position as MTSU as evident by tournaments and head to head play.

VOLet_parking writes:

The man has taken two different programs to the CWS. You really think he can turn a whole baseball team around in 2 years? Especially in this conference when he was left with a cupboard completely bare? I played college baseball, and I'll tell you this, freshmen and sophomores ain't beating seasoned vets very often. Give him time. The man is the best coach we have had in a long, long time.

Banner writes:

in response to VOLet_parking:

The man has taken two different programs to the CWS. You really think he can turn a whole baseball team around in 2 years? Especially in this conference when he was left with a cupboard completely bare? I played college baseball, and I'll tell you this, freshmen and sophomores ain't beating seasoned vets very often. Give him time. The man is the best coach we have had in a long, long time.

Quit drinking the Kool-Aid! The cupboard was far from bare. His 2 best (and only) pitchers aren't his guys. His best player isn't his player. How does it get better?? Simcox has more errors than runs scored! Lol. That is almost impossible to do. Houser will never hit 200 in his lifetime.

voloffaith writes:

in response to Banner:

Quit drinking the Kool-Aid! The cupboard was far from bare. His 2 best (and only) pitchers aren't his guys. His best player isn't his player. How does it get better?? Simcox has more errors than runs scored! Lol. That is almost impossible to do. Houser will never hit 200 in his lifetime.

Blah...blah...blah...He lost two key pitchers to the MLB draft that had good rating along with other position players. I say has two more years at least if we are seeing improvement.
Been blown out a few times ,but mostly competitive. Bullpen has lost 4-5 games in SEC with lead in 9th as they imploded. Owenby sat out a road trip at home after his DUI and hadn't seen him in a while as I recall.You going to zap a kid after one dumb mistake. Thankfully nobody hurt. Life lessons are hard to teach and learn(self professing).

PS As someone already said you don't beat seasoned teams with youth. Vandee took it on the chin last year and this they are more mature/game proven and the results are there. Oh yeah having multiple pitchers of quality doesn't hurt either.

eduardo writes:

I thought Todd Raleigh got fired! lol!

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