Scott Price got the message.
So did Pierce Bily and Jeff Moberg.
As did pretty much any Tennessee player that lugged a bat into the batter’s box in the third inning on Wednesday.
UT coach Dave Serrano talked to his players about a much-needed revamp of confidence in a team meeting on Tuesday.
It must have resonated.
For one massive inning, there was enough confidence to go around.
After Western Carolina (12-9) surged to an early 5-0 lead, Tennessee (10-9) mounted a nine-run, two-out rally in the third to claim a spirited 10-5 victory at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
“The feeling in the dugout I got was oh no, here we go again,” Serrano said.
The feeling was certainty warranted.
The weather grew chilly. Tennessee’s bats and pitching started equally as cold. The contest had all the pieces and vibes to be an unsightly midweek loss.
But after Moberg was robbed of what looked to be a sure base hit to left field in the third, the mood in the dugout took a dramatic twist.
“It looked like it was going to be one of those ugly midweek games,” Serrano said. “I don’t think there was anything more needed for this team than that.”
The “that” was a loud eruption of nine, two-out hits that resulting in nine runs.
For the Vols, the rally continued the season-long trend of two out production. Fifty-eight of UT’s 103 RBIs have come with two outs.
With two outs in the third alone, UT scored as many runs as it did during its three-game series against Alabama last weekend.
“When our backs are against the wall, we seem to fight more,” Serrano said.
Tennessee has played seven games this year, including two wins, where it hasn’t recorded nine hits in the entire contest.
“We needed that big time,” Serrano added.
Junior first baseman Scott Price bookended the rally at home plate. He jolted an RBI double to left-center field to bring home the third inning’s first run.
When Price dug into the batter’s box for the second time that inning, he produced once more, beating out an RBI infield single rolled to Western Carolina’s shortstop. But Moberg was thrown out at home trying to score from second base to end the inning.
The Vols would score only once more after the third, coming from a Parker Wormsley RBI bunt.
“You got to keep going and keep fighting and take the scoreboard out of it,” Price said.
And after the Vols did the majority its damage on the scoreboard, Trevor Charpie smothered the Catamounts’ scoring.
Charpie threw six-shutout innings in relief of starter Aaron Quillen, who allowed five runs and five hits in two innings.
Charpie allowed five hits and issued just two walks.
“It almost did feel like two entirely different games,” Charpie said. “It’s a testament to our coaching to keep us in the game.”
Notebook: Former UT player and TV analyst Rusty Ensor will be the guest speaker at noon in the MVP Club Room at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Tickets are $10. UT Bullpen Club members get a $5 discount.
Riley Blevins is a freelance contributor.