Vols lose 5-1 to Texas A&M for must-win situation

Two wins plus Missouri losses needed

KNOXVILLE, TN - May 16, 2013: Will Maddox #1 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the baseball game between the University of Tennessee Volunteers and the Texas A&M Aggies at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. 
 Photo By Gabby Valentine/Tennessee Athletics

Photo by Tennessee Athletics, University of Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, TN - May 16, 2013: Will Maddox #1 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the baseball game between the University of Tennessee Volunteers and the Texas A&M Aggies at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Gabby Valentine/Tennessee Athletics

As the sun set Thursday, Tennessee’s chances of reaching the SEC baseball tournament grew darker and darker.

Texas A&M had nine hits off UT senior ace Zack Godley and handed the Vols a 5-1 loss in front of 1,776 fans at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Not long after the Vols finished, Missouri beat Kentucky 4-2 and edged closer to the 12th and final spot in the SEC tournament.

As a result, Tennessee (21-29, 7-19 SEC) must win the last two games against Texas A&M, and Missouri (17-30, 9-19) must lose twice to Kentucky in order for the Vols to make the SEC tournament.

“We’ve put ourselves in this situation, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” UT coach Dave Serrano said. “We haven’t made anything easy on ourselves this year, so why should it start now in Game 50?”

Nick Williams (2-4) will start for UT in Friday’s game at 6 p.m. Texas A&M will start Parker Ray (0-1). Game 3 is Saturday at 1.

Godley (5-7) went the distance Thursday and had a career-high 13 strikeouts with three walks. Texas A&M sophomore Daniel Mengden (7-3) threw a seven-hitter, struck out four, and walked two.

“I don’t fault anything tonight,” Serrano said. “We didn’t get hits when we needed to. We didn’t get the outs when we needed to. But that was just a good baseball game that we lost. Their pitcher out-dueled our pitcher.”

All five of the Aggies’ runs were scored by two-out hits.

Cole Lankford hit an RBI infield single for a 1-0 lead in the third.

UT tied it in the fourth when Will Maddox led off with a single and later scored on Ethan Bennett’s fielder’s choice.

The Aggies scored an unearned run in the fifth. Blake Allemand reached on an error with two outs and Lankford hit an RBI single.

Hunter Melton’s RBI single and Troy Stein’s two-run single gave Texas

A&M a 5-1 lead in the seventh.

“I felt good,” Godley said. “My curveball was good, my fastball was good, I was locating it well. When they got a chance, they took advantage of it and came out on top.”

UT had a potential rally stuffed in the seventh.

Bennett led off with a double and went to third on Christin Stewart’s single.

The Vols tried a hit-and-run play, but Pierce Bily didn’t make contact at the plate. Catcher Stein fired the pitch back to Mengden, who threw to third baseman Melton and started the rundown with Bennett getting tagged out on the third-base line.

“With no outs and first and third, I would have ventured to say they would of never thrown back to the pitcher, especially with the score 5-1,” Serrano said. “They just out-coached us with that play. They did a play we didn’t expect to happen. It doesn’t happen if we make contact.”

Dave Link is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 17

Banner writes:

Ground hog day

3 costly base running mistakes.
Poor shortstop play
Poor coaching
Not a single ounce of urgency except from Godley.

Down 5-1 in the 8th how does a runner get picked off of 3rd? How??????? You are down 4 runs!!! The run on 3rd means nothing. Serrano says they were out coached on the play. Really???? I guess at CSF that played would have worked. It doesn't make sense doing that. I beg anyone to defend that play. 3b coach should have said you need to see the ball go past the pitcher before breaking for home. Any 11 year old knows this. Great things on the horizon for this program,

claiborneh writes:

Crickets

wazzya69vol writes:

Twelve out of 14 teams get in, and we're in a "must-win" situation--pathetic!!! Football can't come soon enough, GBO.

216_stitches writes:

in response to Banner:

Ground hog day

3 costly base running mistakes.
Poor shortstop play
Poor coaching
Not a single ounce of urgency except from Godley.

Down 5-1 in the 8th how does a runner get picked off of 3rd? How??????? You are down 4 runs!!! The run on 3rd means nothing. Serrano says they were out coached on the play. Really???? I guess at CSF that played would have worked. It doesn't make sense doing that. I beg anyone to defend that play. 3b coach should have said you need to see the ball go past the pitcher before breaking for home. Any 11 year old knows this. Great things on the horizon for this program,

Agreed.
Out coached all year against SEC teams. Maybe the "pressure offense" worked in Cali. Players want to win but need to be coached to succeed. At least he didn't blame the players this time. GBO!

alfrizzle097 writes:

I'm not a baseball fan at all, so i'm asking out of honest curiosity.

When Serrano was hired it was touted as a sure thing. This was a major turning point for the program! So what happened? It seems like more of the same they had under Raleigh. Small crowds, small win totals....

What is the consensus here? Is the program building in the right direction and just not over the hump for it to translate into wins? What is the trajectory going forwards? Does it look like in the next three years things are going to take off, or do all signs point to more of the same?

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to alfrizzle097:

I'm not a baseball fan at all, so i'm asking out of honest curiosity.

When Serrano was hired it was touted as a sure thing. This was a major turning point for the program! So what happened? It seems like more of the same they had under Raleigh. Small crowds, small win totals....

What is the consensus here? Is the program building in the right direction and just not over the hump for it to translate into wins? What is the trajectory going forwards? Does it look like in the next three years things are going to take off, or do all signs point to more of the same?

Serrano had a young team this year, so I don't think the vast majority of fans expected great thongs this year. He does need some time to right the ship, but as usual SEC fans aren't patient enough to give coaches time. He has some good recruiting classes on the horizon, so hopefully things should get better... assuming he is given adequate time.

THEKIDWISCONSIN writes:

It's technically not over yet...so I'll shelve my harsh words (for the staff, not the kids) for now.

With regards to us not having any patiences...I don't think in year two, a year where the SEC is not what it normally is, it's too much to ask to be one of 12 teams that make it to Hoover.

Way, way too many mental errors to consider this season to have been coaches well regardless of the youth on this team. It's just so disappointing...

Regardless, two games left...

Go BaseVOLS!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I'm not happy with the results, but Godley is the only major league prospect in the rotation. Serrano needs some depth in the bull pen and another quality starter before UT will contend in the SEC and beyond..The effort is there, the results are not.

NowHearThis writes:

Why all the wasted ink about the tournament?

If they let every team in UT would be there but with about the same chances of winning as they have now.

Just sportswriters filling a quota I guess.

dcap8424 writes:

Their pitcher out dueled our pitcher... really? Godley had 13 Ks with 3 BBs and theirs had 4 Ks with 2 BBs. Yeah Godley gave up two more hits, but I wouldn't say he was outdueled. We just didn't have any timely hits. This one is on the offense just as much as Godley.

stevefrommemphis writes:

No outs, 1st & 3rd, behind 4 runs in the 8th. It would have literally made more sense to tell the runner on 3rd stand on the base, like in T-ball, until somebody got a hit or a deep sacrifice fly, instead of trying anything fancy that would potentially get him picked off. That run meant nothing! What sort of baseball are they playing?

10SE writes:

Just put 'em out of their misery!

ReeseHallRelic writes:

And Bennett, the runner picked off third, is a catcher. He's probably run that lame play a million times since he was in Little League: concede the runner on first stealing second, fire it back to the pitcher and, one time in a hundred, you'll catch the runner on third taking a nap. If not, the pitcher just eats it and gets set for the next pitch. It hardly ever works, and it should never work when the team at bat is down by four. Bennett should have had his foot nailed to the bag. CDS did him a major by accepting the blame and saying he was outcoached. Sorry, but you can't coach a kid having a brain cramp like that. Good player made a totally boneheaded play... simple as that.

MikeInTN writes:

The Joan Cronan/Jimmy Cheek hiring of Serrano right now seems to be a bust!!!!

Banner writes:

in response to ReeseHallRelic:

And Bennett, the runner picked off third, is a catcher. He's probably run that lame play a million times since he was in Little League: concede the runner on first stealing second, fire it back to the pitcher and, one time in a hundred, you'll catch the runner on third taking a nap. If not, the pitcher just eats it and gets set for the next pitch. It hardly ever works, and it should never work when the team at bat is down by four. Bennett should have had his foot nailed to the bag. CDS did him a major by accepting the blame and saying he was outcoached. Sorry, but you can't coach a kid having a brain cramp like that. Good player made a totally boneheaded play... simple as that.

You are wrong. I played college baseball and professional baseball. There is always protocol with runners on 1st and 3rd. The 3b coach verbally tells the runner on 3rd what to do after each pitch. Choices are:
1. Go when catcher releases the ball (which when down 5-1 is the wrong call)
2. Wait until the ball goes past pitcher or
3. Don't go at all unless the catchers throw sails in the outfield bc you're run means nothing at this point.

CDS was terribly outcoached on this play. Brutal and unexcusable. You couldn't find a pro or college coach in the country that would defend that play. Tie game or winning no big deal but not down 4 in the 8th.

Bennett is a good player and is finally getting the playing time he deserves. I don't blame him. He should have been told #3 and the decision would have been made for him. This is called COACHING!

Rookie2 writes:

Glad my frustrations of how this season has gone, are being shared by others. Tony LaRussa was an incredible coach in that he seemed to almost always press the right button. I've been disappointed in that respect with this coaching staff. Seems like when we were tied or up this year we were too unaggressive, and when we were down we were overly aggressive. To many wrong buttons.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to Banner:

You are wrong. I played college baseball and professional baseball. There is always protocol with runners on 1st and 3rd. The 3b coach verbally tells the runner on 3rd what to do after each pitch. Choices are:
1. Go when catcher releases the ball (which when down 5-1 is the wrong call)
2. Wait until the ball goes past pitcher or
3. Don't go at all unless the catchers throw sails in the outfield bc you're run means nothing at this point.

CDS was terribly outcoached on this play. Brutal and unexcusable. You couldn't find a pro or college coach in the country that would defend that play. Tie game or winning no big deal but not down 4 in the 8th.

Bennett is a good player and is finally getting the playing time he deserves. I don't blame him. He should have been told #3 and the decision would have been made for him. This is called COACHING!

And you're assuming that it was the coach that screwed up. My experience was that the third base coach would have/should have told the runner before the first pitch, and then changed it (if it was to be changed) later on.

We weren't there, so we don't know what was said. But the odds are a lot greater that the player screwed up, and not the coach, in that instance. And, if the coach somehow neglected to say anything, there's still no excuse for the runner to wander that far off the bag. If you're playing on a D-1 team, you have to know that yourself, too, whether or not the coach confirms it.

Don't get me wrong, I think Bennett is a good player, too. Players of any caliber can have a brain cramp, and I think you saw one yesterday. And I think the coach accepting the blame for it was a good coaching move. Now, if you want to assume that it's all on the coach, I guess you can do so. In your "protocol", the only way that Bennett is not at fault would be if the coach told him to take off when the catcher released the ball... and that's one heck of an assumption. I doubt it happened that way, but you may be right.

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