Loss to Arkansas puts Vols at mercy of rival in order to reach SEC tournament

Still behind Missouri for 12th in SEC

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — For at least one weekend, Tennessee fans will also need to be Kentucky fans.

The Vols lost 10-2 to No. 14 Arkansas in front of 8,523 fans at Baum Stadium Sunday and remain on the outside looking in for the 12-team SEC baseball tournament field.

In order for Tennessee to earn its first league tournament berth since 2007, the Vols (20-28, 7-18 SEC) must win one more game this weekend at home against Texas A&M than Missouri does at home against Kentucky.

After beating Arkansas 8-3 in Friday night’s series opener, the Vols were outscored 21-3 in the final two games and remain percentage points behind Missouri for the SEC’s 12th spot heading into the final week of the regular season.

Missouri (16-30, 8-19) gave up a two-run lead in the ninth inning and lost 7-6 to Alabama on Sunday. The Tigers have a .296 SEC winning percentage. Tennessee is at .280.

The more Kentucky wins against Missouri this weekend the better, as long as Tennessee can also have a successful series against the Aggies.

“You just made my day, even in a bad loss,” Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said when told of Alabama’s rally. “Obviously, we still have a chance and that’s all we can ask for.”

It didn’t take long for Arkansas to take control Sunday as the Razorbacks scored five runs on five hits against Tennessee starter Aaron Quillen (2-4) in the first inning.

Arkansas starter Randall Fant (5-1) threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out five and walking three. Tennessee didn’t get a hit until Will Maddox’s leadoff single in the sixth, and didn’t score until consecutive hits from A.J. Simcox, Scott Price and David Houser in the eighth.

“It’s just a lack of consistency that we’ve had through the year that continues to haunt us and it did it again,” Serrano said. “I think our guys were surprised we played so well on a Friday night and won and they may have been afraid we woke (Arkansas) up and sure enough we did and we acted like that the last couple of games.”

The Razorbacks (34-17, 17-9) scored a run off Trevor Bettencourt, who relieved Quillen in the second, and three runs off Drake Owenby, who worked 3 2/3 innings. Eric Martin worked the final two innings and gave up the final Arkansas run in the eighth.

Arkansas, which secured a first-round SEC tournament bye, out-hit Tennessee 14-6 and had five extra-base hits.

“(Fant) pitched, and I appreciate good pitching,” Serrano said. “I’ve been around good pitching my whole career, and he pitched and made it extremely difficult on our hitters because he had a good little wiggle on his pitch and he had an outstanding change-up, and that’s what wins in college baseball. He kept us off-balance and we weren’t able to make any adjustments.

“In retrospect, we were behind in the count, we elevated pitches, and they made us pay. I think every ball that was elevated they hit hard. This far in the season we refuse to learn that that’s not what is going to be successful.”

Every Arkansas starter had a hit, led by a 3-for-5 day from Matt Vinson.

“It was a great job by our entire team,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “I thought we came out and did a great job of being extremely focused the last two days after a disappointing first game. I felt like the lack of focus, combined by a great job by Tennessee’s pitcher, was the difference [on Friday].

“Saturday was outstanding for us, and today was just a carbon copy.”

The Vols host Morehead State in their final non-conference game at 6 p.m. Tuesday before opening the three-game series against Texas A&M on Thursday.

“Someone has to step up and do something for us to get in the tournament. That’s what this program needs and that’s where we expect to be, but again, we’ve got to do something for that to happen,” Serrano said. “It’s going to take the Vols to step up and play good baseball. I walk away disappointed with how we responded. It’s not that we lost the past two games, it’s how we lost the games. We need to step it up.”

Rick Harvey is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 13

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Once again UT baseball is hoping to back into the SEC tourney..Oh man, just end it already.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

Don't really follow the basevols much, but I see they've been disappointing for a while. Haven't kept up since the Helton days.

vorangel writes:

More disappointment. This is bleak. At least careless baserunning and poor
Obviously pitching is a big problem. These youngsters pitching the last two days are the future. Next year could be a repeat. There does not appear another horse like Godley wearing orange. I mean black...

vorangel writes:

in response to vorangel:

More disappointment. This is bleak. At least careless baserunning and poor
Obviously pitching is a big problem. These youngsters pitching the last two days are the future. Next year could be a repeat. There does not appear another horse like Godley wearing orange. I mean black...

Meant to say careless baserunning and poor defense were not the cause of these losses. Lack of leadership, maybe...

redskinvol1 writes:

Go Vols!!Serrano will get you there.It will just take time.If Serrano can't get it done it will never be done.Got to give him maybe even 6 years but it will happen.

flatrock writes:

Note to Pumpkin Serrano: Ensworth Prep called and they want their Black-and-Orange uniforms back ASAP!

Banner writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

Go Vols!!Serrano will get you there.It will just take time.If Serrano can't get it done it will never be done.Got to give him maybe even 6 years but it will happen.

6 Years? It takes time to build a program but not 6 years. He has what the previous 2 coaches didn't:

Awesome updated facilty, full allotment of scholarships, watered down SEC, tremendously easier path to Hoover, higher assistant salaries, bigger budget and most importantly an AD that isn't a horse's behind like Hamilton. He doesn't have any obstacles obstructing his success or the speed of his success. To me there is zero improvement this season from last season.

Ichabod writes:

LAST in SEC Football three years running.
No NCAA tourney in Basketball two years running.
Pretty much LAST in Men's SEC Track.
LAST in baseball, and can't even make a 12 team tourney.
Man, I tell you, UT Men's Athletics have got it GOING ON !!!
I'm encouraged we only have to wait 6 more years for a winner.
This is pathetic....

underthehill writes:

in response to Ichabod:

LAST in SEC Football three years running.
No NCAA tourney in Basketball two years running.
Pretty much LAST in Men's SEC Track.
LAST in baseball, and can't even make a 12 team tourney.
Man, I tell you, UT Men's Athletics have got it GOING ON !!!
I'm encouraged we only have to wait 6 more years for a winner.
This is pathetic....

Success or failure..starts at the top..appears no one is really interested..as long as attendance is good and money rolls in to be poorly managed..

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to Ichabod:

LAST in SEC Football three years running.
No NCAA tourney in Basketball two years running.
Pretty much LAST in Men's SEC Track.
LAST in baseball, and can't even make a 12 team tourney.
Man, I tell you, UT Men's Athletics have got it GOING ON !!!
I'm encouraged we only have to wait 6 more years for a winner.
This is pathetic....

The football team was last only once, but your point is made.

Thanks Mike Hamilton and Jimmy Cheek for destroying what was once a successful men's athletic program!

vol98champ writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

The football team was last only once, but your point is made.

Thanks Mike Hamilton and Jimmy Cheek for destroying what was once a successful men's athletic program!

Hamilton hired a terrible baseball coach. Hamilton and most UT fans bought the lier and cheater's line when Fulmer was fired. Hamilton then hired a terrible football coach, but I'm not sure he had much of a choice. Serrano is at least an upgrade. A friend of mine who probably knows, says all of our problems at this point are directly related to admin.

VolFanHoping writes:

Hammy's $1.2 million parting gift sure just keeps paying off.

stevefrommemphis writes:

Be a Kentucky fan? That will never happen with me. OK,I will be when they play Alabama in football. (and they WILL play Alabama in football, because the SEC office in Birmingham ALABAMA has to protect their sacred cow Crimson Tide by scheduling them to play the weakest East opponents)

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