After facing three ranked teams in its first 11 games, the Tennessee baseball team was due for a reprieve.
The Volunteers got more than that on Friday, coasting to a 16-0 blowout of Alcorn State at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in a game that saw senior right hander Zach Godley toss seven scoreless inning and 12 Tennessee batters, including all nine starters, record a hit.
Not only did Vols hitters get a chance to tee off against a struggling opponent, Tennessee (5-7) also got a chance to roll out its sixteenth freshman to nab playing time this season, which leads the nation.
“I set this schedule up for a reason and I wanted to challenge these guys to make us better in the long run,” Vols coach Dave Serrano said.
“We got a little bit of a breather and we were able to open up the flood gates a little bit.”
Godley posted eight strikeouts while allowing just three hits and was anchored by a Vols offense that racked up 17 hits and got on the board early with a 2-0 lead in the first before recording back-to-back four-run innings in the fifth and sixth.
After giving up hits in the first, second and third, Godley, who improved to 1-1, was nearly untouchable. He walked four batters but kept the Alcorn State (2-13) offense at bay with a variety of pitches.
Sophomore third baseman Will Maddox, who led the Vols with 4 RBIs and recorded his seventh multi-hit game, started the scoring barrage in the fourth when he drove in freshman left fielder Vince Vizcaino and freshman shortstop AJ Simcox, a Farragut native, on a RBI single to short left off Alcorn State starter Mike Peterson (0-3) to give Tennessee a 5-0 advantage.
“We haven’t been playing good baseball lately and we knew that we needed to come out tonight and show that we can be tough and play all nine innings,” Maddox said.
Vizcaino added to the lead in the fifth, driving in Pierce Bily on a double down the left field line before a RBI single by Simcox and a RBI double by second baseman Taylor Smart gave Tennessee a comfy 8-0 lead.
Freshmen Michael Flax, making his college debut, and Matt Esparza pitched a scoreless inning of relief apiece.
“It’s really nice to see so many freshmen contribute and help this team because it is only going to bode well for us down the line,” Serrano said. “And when I say that I am not talking about a year or two from now I am talking about hopefully in a week or two.”
Tennessee, which hadn’t played since a loss to No. 24 Virginia Tech on Sunday, hosts the Bravehawks in Game 2 of a three game series at noon on Saturday.
Matthew Reagan is a freelance contributor.