An Arizona State University staff member scoffed inside the press box.
He pressed his pen to the glass window, counting the number of new faces the Sun Devils had just trotted out onto the field.
“Oh boy,” he said. “Six, there are six of them out there.”
He was referring to the number of freshmen who were inserted into the lineup late into the game.
Down big, Arizona State wanted to get their youngsters experience.
Or throw in the towel, as the staff member put it.
Either way, it was Tennessee’s youth-riddled starting lineup of seven freshmen that induced the No. 20 Sun Devils (3-2) to waive the white flag Saturday.
Riding the surge of a five-run fifth inning, the Vols (2-4) torched the Sun Devils, 11-2, at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Tennessee started seven freshmen for the third time this season. It has never started less than five.
Conversely, as UT’s lead grew, junior Zach Luther was given a pinch hit at-bat and junior Taylor Smart replaced freshman A.J. Simcox at shortstop.
“I like this team’s upside,” Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said. “I’m just getting guys into the game so they can stay strong all season long.”
And they were certainty strong Saturday.
Tennessee turned an efficient 10 hits into 11 runs to even its home-opening series 1-1.
Will Maddox paced the Vols offensively, going 2-for-3, with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Freshman Drake Owenby was stellar in relief of starting pitcher Aaron Quillen.
Owenby allowed no runs and two hits in four innings on the mound.
“I’m excited for our program and our team, but the next step is to win the series,” Serrano said. “I’m proud of the way we responded from yesterday.”
The Vols lulled bats from Friday night were nowhere to be found.
Tennessee scored in five separate innings, including the game’s first three.
“I thought we came out and swung the bats really well today,” Serrano said.
The Vols added five runs to a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning, as Maddox and Pierce Bily combined for three RBIs to add the exclamation mark.
Bily accounted for two runs and two RBIs. Maddox reached on four of his five trips to the plate.
“We just need to find ways to score runs and that’s just what we were able to do tonight,” Maddox said. “But we can’t leave guys on base.”
Tennessee struck big offensively once more in the seventh inning, extending its lead to 11-2 off a Scott Price two RBI single.
Tennessee was lent a helping hand from Arizona State’s defense.
The Sun Devils’ four errors resulted in four UT runs.
“I have learned that you’re never going to be perfect,” Serrano said. “I try to relay that to our players. Especially with this coaching staff, there’s always going to be something we can find to do better. But after a tough loss last night, we came out and played good baseball and beat a good team.”