Another 'back breaker' seals fate for Vols, 8-4

Vols won't make SEC tournament

KNOXVILLE, TN - May 17, 2013:  Taylor Smart #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers scores a run during game 2 of the series in baseball between the University Tennessee Volunteers and the Texas A&M Aggies at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Matthew DeMaria/Tennessee Athletics

Photo by Matthew DeMaria/Tennessee Athlet, University of Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, TN - May 17, 2013: Taylor Smart #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers scores a run during game 2 of the series in baseball between the University Tennessee Volunteers and the Texas A&M Aggies at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Matthew DeMaria/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee carried a one-run lead over Texas A&M going into the eighth inning Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

There was reason for tempered enthusiasm.

At the same time, about 600 miles away in Columbia, Mo., Kentucky led Missouri 3-1 early in that outing.

All was going well for the Vols. A Kentucky win over Missouri could keep UT’s SEC tournament hopes alive.

Turned out none of that mattered.

In an ending UT coach Dave Serrano described as “the theme of 51 games,” Texas A&M drew the Vols into a 4-all tie in the eighth, posted four runs in the ninth and high-fived its way to an 8-4 win.

Game No. 52, a regular-season finale on Saturday against the Aggies (30-24, 13-15 SEC), is merely a formality. For the sixth straight year, Tennessee (21-30, 7-20) won’t be going to the SEC tournament.

“It was a back breaker and we’ve had to deal with a lot of back breakers,” Serrano said of Friday’s defeat.

This one was ultimately a moot point. Missouri rallied to beat Kentucky 4-3 and secured the final spot in the 12-team SEC tournament.

Relief pitcher Drake Owenby (2-1) took Friday’s loss for UT. The freshman surrendered two hits, two walks and three runs, all earned, after replacing starter Nick Williams.

Williams, a junior from Farragut High School, was

the game’s lone bright spot for UT.

After giving up two early runs, including a second-inning home run off the left-field foul pole by Troy Stein, Williams locked into form. The junior retired 12 of 13 batters in the fourth through seventh innings.

“Looking over at the dugout, seeing some of the seniors, I knew we needed this one,” said Williams, who allowed four earned runs on five hits and posted a career-high 10 strikeouts. “It was a big game for us.”

The Vols entered the eighth leading 3-2, thanks to three early RBIs by Christin Stewart. With Williams’ pitch count sitting at 99, the right-hander came back out to face the bottom of the Aggies’ lineup.

A bloop single to left by No. 8 hitter Krey Bratsen delivered pangs of déjà vu. Blowing late leads is nothing new for these Vols.

Two batters later, Mikey Reynolds lofted a pitch into right field.

“I thought it was just a normal fly ball,” Williams said.

Then it carried. And carried. Caroming high off the outfield wall, the routine fly turned into a game-changing RBI triple.

Williams walked the next batter, ending his night. Cole Lankford, the first batter facing Owenby, brought Bratsen home with an RBI single.

An RBI single by UT junior Taylor Smart tied the game 4-4 in the eighth. It merely served as the wick for an implosion.

Following a leadoff walk, the Aggies loaded the bases with one out in the ninth. Owenby was pulled in favor of freshman Trevor Bettencourt, who was subsequently tagged with three straight RBI singles leading to four runs.

“The game continues to repeat itself over and over and continues to give us opportunities to be successful and we’re just not,” Serrano said.

The Vols loaded the bases against reliever Jason Jester (3-3) in the ninth, but this hasn’t been a year for fairy-tale finishes. The game ended on a ground out by Scott Price.

“I’d like to sit here and say that with one game left we’re just a turn of the screwdriver away from being the kind of program that I envision,” Serrano said. “But we’re farther away than that. And that is very, very disappointing.”

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Comments » 28

Banner writes:

I guess the players had cotton in their ears. That stern talk before the series really lit the fire needed. Passion! Passion! Passion!

The stern talk might work if you are Joe Torre and you are talking to the Yankees who are grown men.

I feel for the kids. Last night was a tough loss. CDS is like a robot. Everything is monotone. Show some emotion, show some passion. You can't tell people you want to win you need to show people that. The players emotional level and intensity level is set by the head guy. The whole team tightens up late in the game. The Coaches need to pick their body language up and lead the charge.

C'mon CDS show some urgency, grit and fortitude. So far in 2 years I have not seen a single ounce of any of them. No more "Cali" ball. It isn't about what you know but what kind of a warrior you are. When I look out on the field I'm not seeing warriors. Players reflect their coach. You have first class facility, full allotment of scholarships. You have been "young for 2 years now. 9-37 in last 46 SEC games. You said this team was "apple to oranges compared to last year". You were right.

SummittsCourt writes:

I've never seen a team have this many hard luck losses in one season. If they were able to hold late inning leads this year things would be very different. SMH

THEKIDWISCONSIN writes:

Well said Banner.

Godley is gone & some of the pitching we need will surely go high enough in the June draft to bypass college...

Like you said, there just doesn't seem to be any fire at all and it starts at the top.

You'd liked to have seen at least SOME improvement so the pressure isn't so great going into year three...but there just wasn't any & I hate to draw comparisons, but year three under CDS is going to be just like year three under Dooley...win or we're starting over again...with another program.

And yes, feel very bad for the kids. So disappointing.

philgreen5#410561 writes:

How long do UT fans have to wait for the Vols to be relevant in football, basketball, or baseball again!

Ironcity writes:

in response to THEKIDWISCONSIN:

Well said Banner.

Godley is gone & some of the pitching we need will surely go high enough in the June draft to bypass college...

Like you said, there just doesn't seem to be any fire at all and it starts at the top.

You'd liked to have seen at least SOME improvement so the pressure isn't so great going into year three...but there just wasn't any & I hate to draw comparisons, but year three under CDS is going to be just like year three under Dooley...win or we're starting over again...with another program.

And yes, feel very bad for the kids. So disappointing.

Guys our coach could do hand stands but it will not change the fact that this team lacks talent. The job will get done but when you have three SEC players when you arrive on campus and one full recruiting cycle under your belt, its not going to turn overnight. I am disappointed but based on what I am hearing the players are coming. UT needs pitchers and lots of them. Right now we just can't compete if we have to score 10 runs a game to just keep it close.

eduardo writes:

another sterling hire by utad!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to philgreen5#410561:

How long do UT fans have to wait for the Vols to be relevant in football, basketball, or baseball again!

Well, basketball wise they defeated UF 3 straight times and blew UK off the court. So, I would say anytime you beat a defending national title school, that's being relevant. Baseball has been down since Raleigh took over and it's going to take some time. Football, on the other hand must be successful soon, because they are the big draw at UT and steps are at least in place to improve that sport. I'm not sure Serrano (which seemed capable) is the answer.

MikeInTN writes:

in response to billythekid:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Serrano was a Joan Cronan hire.

JSmith525 writes:

I am glad that my life does not revolve around the wins and losses of UT sports teams. I hope for wins but if not I just move on after the loss. Life is to damb short to carry it on your shoulder.

xanga writes:

cant spell last without Tennessee hahahaa

JSmith525 writes:

in response to MikeInTN:

Serrano was a Joan Cronan hire.

Look out your window. Do you see and rocks, boulders or trees? If so, you might as well be talking to them as to respond to the numb chuck that you responded too. He has "Not A Clue". It is what it is.

us43137415#376444 writes:

Hate to be Debbie Downer here, but I've been predicting this all along.

I started saying back in March that this team was not playing with determination. You could see it in the tenative way they swung the bats, almost as if they didn't want to hit the ball.

Sorry, but I'm sick and tired of "we almost made it," "one little mistake cost us," "we were doing everything right." And don't say "we should have kept Delmonico." Delmonico burned his own bridge, which lead to 4 years of "Raleigh-Folly ball."

Almost half of this team are Serrano recruits. In two more years, he'll have a team of his own recruits and we'll still be in the cellar.

We keep saying, RECRUIT LOCAL, RECRUIT LOCAL, and all we do is raid Farragut's pretty boys. Yeah, they got good teams at Farragut, but you can't give EVERYBODY there a scholarship. The good players in the state are going to go to Vanderbilt. We need to raid Southern California, Texas, Florida and warm weather climates, where they play baseball year round.

I don't ever see any hope for Tennessee baseball. These teams are never, ever going to go anywhere, and years from now, they'll still be the whipping boys of the SEC.. always on the outside, looking in.

maciste54 writes:

Baseball is totally different than basketball or football. The talent just isn't there ....yet. They can play with all the passion in the world but if you don't get clutch hits and don't have solid pitching you can't win on emotion. Give Serrano time. This was a very young team.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to xanga:

cant spell last without Tennessee hahahaa

Let's see..LTennesseeast, don't see it??

arkyvol writes:

in response to philgreen5#410561:

How long do UT fans have to wait for the Vols to be relevant in football, basketball, or baseball again!

give it time. the worm will definitely turn!

volfan2002 writes:

Hopefully next season we will start seeing results in the right direction. I think our major need is a closer we just couldn't hold leads. Hopefully we will recruit a lot of pitching help.

Banner writes:

I hate to add fuel to the fire. 3 years ago three teams from the SEC East finished 1-2-3 in the College World Series. USC, UF and Vandy. This year the SEC East will have only 2 teams to even qualify for the NCAA's. This is unprecedented in SEC history. The SEC has never been weaker. UF is average at best. Kentucky, Mizzou, and Georgia are horrendous. What does that say where we are at?

During CTR's first 2 years they would have been a 3 or 4 seed in the East. This with no facility and being the most penalized team in NCAA APR history for a baseball program. Sanctions that led to the dismissal of CRD. I'm just trying to compare the first 2 years of the last two coaches. When CTR took over he inherited a team that lost 3 first rounders and still didn't make the tournament. CTR did inherit a total of 4 wins returning from starting pitchers and 6 home runs from his position players and scholarship sanctions. He had 2 outfielders playing in the middle infield with no backups. I know because I was on that team and the year before under Coach D. I'm just tired of people that have never played an inning in their life making ignorant statements that make no sense. If you weren't there then you don't know.

pcshowtime writes:

different mens sport same results I am getting use to it though.

Dobervol writes:

in response to Banner:

I guess the players had cotton in their ears. That stern talk before the series really lit the fire needed. Passion! Passion! Passion!

The stern talk might work if you are Joe Torre and you are talking to the Yankees who are grown men.

I feel for the kids. Last night was a tough loss. CDS is like a robot. Everything is monotone. Show some emotion, show some passion. You can't tell people you want to win you need to show people that. The players emotional level and intensity level is set by the head guy. The whole team tightens up late in the game. The Coaches need to pick their body language up and lead the charge.

C'mon CDS show some urgency, grit and fortitude. So far in 2 years I have not seen a single ounce of any of them. No more "Cali" ball. It isn't about what you know but what kind of a warrior you are. When I look out on the field I'm not seeing warriors. Players reflect their coach. You have first class facility, full allotment of scholarships. You have been "young for 2 years now. 9-37 in last 46 SEC games. You said this team was "apple to oranges compared to last year". You were right.

When a coach succeeds at multiple programs beyond expectations, and takes two programs to the College WS, then comes here and the team here sucks, that OUGHT to tell you something, but apparently all that tells you is he stinks since WE'VE been bad for two years.

It tells me, and ought to tell you, that we still have poor talent, and that the SEC is the toughest baseball conference in the nation, by far. I'm sure Serrano can improve, as none of us is perfect, but I don't think he's even a third of the problem.

I really do want to allow a UT program to be run by internet posters to see what happens to it: take a vote after every game to see if the coach should be fired; when you fire him, the new coach should be chosen from the internet posters who know how to fix it all; and after each game the new, internet-chosen coach loses, he must stand against a concrete wall and be pelted with rotten tomatoes by any disgruntled fans.

Yep, with brilliant dudes like you in charge, we'll be winning in no time!

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to Dobervol:

When a coach succeeds at multiple programs beyond expectations, and takes two programs to the College WS, then comes here and the team here sucks, that OUGHT to tell you something, but apparently all that tells you is he stinks since WE'VE been bad for two years.

It tells me, and ought to tell you, that we still have poor talent, and that the SEC is the toughest baseball conference in the nation, by far. I'm sure Serrano can improve, as none of us is perfect, but I don't think he's even a third of the problem.

I really do want to allow a UT program to be run by internet posters to see what happens to it: take a vote after every game to see if the coach should be fired; when you fire him, the new coach should be chosen from the internet posters who know how to fix it all; and after each game the new, internet-chosen coach loses, he must stand against a concrete wall and be pelted with rotten tomatoes by any disgruntled fans.

Yep, with brilliant dudes like you in charge, we'll be winning in no time!

+1

I never understand why "fans" immediately jump to the (usually erroneous) conclusion that it's gotta be the coaching that's the issue.

Bottom line is that you can't make chicken salad out of chicken $h!t.

But yeah, listen to a kid who played on a horrible team. Listen to the excuses made for Todd Raleigh. And jump to the "logical" conclusion that he must know how to fix our problems.

You think you're the only alumnus of the UT baseball program who posts here?

underthehill writes:

When you have a record like the baseball Vols..it is pretty obvious a coaching change will not work miracles in one year..I understand the lack of talent..what I don't understand is ..how in the world did Vandy get that good..how did they get that kind of talent..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I'm not sure Tony LaRussa could win with this team. They don't have quality arms outside of Godley and not one utility 5 tool player to lean on. A below 500 ball club with a relatively light non-conference schedule is not acceptable progress year two. I hope Serrano can right the ship, but right now this squad took a step backward this year.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to MikeInTN:

Serrano was a Joan Cronan hire.

Was not. Billy said so.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to billythekid:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TRANSLATION:

"I am wrong. I am often wrong. I am almost always wrong. But, when I'm caught at it, I just change the subject and go back to the basics: criticize Dave Hart, criticize Derek Dooley, criticize Sal Sunseri. That's all I know how to do."

What idiot would bring up Sunseri in an article about the UT baseball team?

And stop with the "elite athlete" stuff. We all know your only claim to fame is selling overpriced TV sets in 'Loosa.

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to billythekid:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Elite athlete? Highly skilled baseball player? Toddy bill I gotta give you credit. You are good for a lot of laughs LOL

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to billythekid:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's clear enough that your cognitive skills are lacking, but where would you get the idea that I "could care less if we ever played for a title again"?

First off, you can stow the "we" business, widdle boy. I earned a degree from UT, so it is "my" school. You, on the other hand, merely root for the school's teams (or claim you do) so there is no "we" between us.

Realists recognize that no school is going to play for a title in every sport in every year. If you're going to go off on every coach who doesn't perpetually lead teams to titles, you're going to be one miserable human being.

Oh, wait: you already are.

And as for your having the highest batting average on your high school baseball team, all that I can say is: "Wow." What an achievement! That CERTAINLY qualifies you as an "elite athlete".... in your own mind. Since every high school baseball team has, every year, someone who leads their team in batting average, it's not really all that "elite", is it? And if that's all you have to show for your time on this earth.... how sad for you.

us43137415#376444 writes:

in response to ReeseHallRelic:

TRANSLATION:

"I am wrong. I am often wrong. I am almost always wrong. But, when I'm caught at it, I just change the subject and go back to the basics: criticize Dave Hart, criticize Derek Dooley, criticize Sal Sunseri. That's all I know how to do."

What idiot would bring up Sunseri in an article about the UT baseball team?

And stop with the "elite athlete" stuff. We all know your only claim to fame is selling overpriced TV sets in 'Loosa.

WHAT THE HECK DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH BASEBALL??????????????????????

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to us43137415#376444:

WHAT THE HECK DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH BASEBALL??????????????????????

Uhhh.... that was kinda my point. BillyBoi knows nothing about baseball, especially UT baseball, so he talks what he knows: trash.

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