Tennessee baseball coach Dave Serrano didn’t get to scout Aaron Quillen last spring in the Class AAA state high school sectional, but he heard plenty about it.
Quillen was pitching for Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett against Farragut.
Serrano’s son, Kyle, got the start for Farragut and was relieved by A.J. Simcox in the sixth inning.
Quillen finished with 13 strikeouts, but Farragut won the game 2-1 and advanced to the state tournament.
“I wasn’t there,” Serrano said. “Obviously my son was, and he raved about (Quillen). My son’s comment was they couldn’t see his breaking ball at all, and he just kept throwing it for strikes.”
That was all Dave Serrano needed to hear. UT recruited Quillen — luring him away from East Tennessee State University — and got him to sign along with Simcox, now UT’s starting shortstop. Kyle Serrano is a senior at Farragut and a UT signee.
Quillen, meanwhile, is in line for a starting spot in UT’s weekend rotation, and he did nothing to hurt his chances during Sunday’s 12-4 victory over Alcorn State at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The 6-foot-2 freshman right-hander went the first six innings — allowing five hits and four runs with one walk and seven strikeouts.
“The warm weather helped,” Quillen said. “My arm felt pretty good. I’m starting to get down to my natural arm slot, moving sidearm again. I kind of worked on my sidearm curveball in the pen this week. It’s the first time I’ve broke it out all season and it felt pretty good.”
Dave Serrano was impressed.
“I thought it was a great quality start for us, just like last Sunday,” Serrano said. “He could have kept going, to be honest. We didn’t use that many (pitchers) this weekend, and I wanted to get some guys in.”
Quillen went six innings last weekend against Virginia Tech and gave up eight hits and four runs (two earned) in a 7-3 loss. He is 1-1 this season with a 4.05 ERA.
When UT begins the SEC season this weekend at Alabama, Quillen will probably start Saturday or Sunday. Zack Godley will start Friday for the Vols.
“(Quillen has) been a weekend starter each weekend and he’s going to continue to do that,” Serrano said. “He’s proven that he throws strikes, he throws good strikes, he throws three pitches over the plate. There’s no reason in the world why I wouldn’t want him in the weekend rotation.”
Quillen is glad Simcox is the Vols’ starting shortstop — and not pitching against UT. Quillen got all he wanted from Simcox in the state sectional.
“A.J. came in I think in the sixth inning and closed the sixth and seventh,” Quillen said. “I don’t think we sniffed him. He was about 93 (mph), 94 off the mound.”
Notebook: UT (7-7) drew nine walks, and three Vols got hit by pitches in Sunday’s victory that completed a three-game sweep of Alcorn State (2-15). UT plays host to Western Kentucky on Tuesday and Wednesday.