A ray of sunshine in Vols dreary baseball season, 7-5

Vols rally to win final game

Tennessee coach Dave Serrano and senior pitcher Zack Godley hug at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Saturday after the Vols win against Texas A&M.
Matthew Osborne/Tennessee Athletics

Photo by Matthew R. Osborne/Tennessee Ath, University of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee coach Dave Serrano and senior pitcher Zack Godley hug at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Saturday after the Vols win against Texas A&M. Matthew Osborne/Tennessee Athletics

Rain began failing in the fifth inning at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Saturday, appropriately dampening the end of Tennessee’s dreary baseball season.

But those showers soon passed. Just like UT coach Dave Serrano hopes the Vols’ dreariness will come to pass.

Depite playing for nothing, Tennessee rallied Saturday. A four-run deficit against Texas A&M turned into a 7-5 victory to end the 2013 season.

Serrano called the team’s finale “a nice way to go out,” but buffered that characterization by framing reality.

UT missed the postseason, again, and finished one-half game from the SEC basement.

“Unacceptable,” he said.

Saturday’s win stemmed from a four-hit, three-run seventh inning. Following back-to-back singles by Jeff Moberg and Parker Wormsley and a sacrifice bunt by Zach Luther, freshman A.J. Simcox stepped up. Having been dealt first-pitch fastballs all series, the Farragut High School alum turned on one.

His two-run triple tied the game 5. Simcox was driven in one batter later on a single by junior Scott Price. An insurance run came on a wild pitch by A&M pitcher Corey Ray the next inning.

UT freshman Trevor Charpie recorded an incident-free, three-out save, securing the win for reliever Eric Martin (1-0), who reeled off four scoreless innings.

“Hopefully that’s a preview of next year,” Simcox said. “We can get the close games going in our favor next year. It was a character win for us today. We didn’t really have anything to motivate us because our season is over.”

Looking to string together three wins in as many days this weekend, the Vols instead dropped two of three to Texas A&M (30-25, 13-16 SEC). The two losses rubber-stamped the

season — Tennessee (22-30, 8-20) missed reaching the SEC tournament for the sixth straight year.

“Every one of us has to get better in every facet because this, like I said to the team, is the last senior class that I want to see leave without a postseason appearance,” said Serrano, who holds a 46-61 record in two years at UT.

Luckily that class only consists of only two players. The brevity of Saturday’s Senior Day ceremony speaks to how overwhelmingly young the Vols are. Pitcher Zack Godley, a workhorse who tossed an SEC-best 1081/3 innings this year, and Luther, who played sparingly, are the team’s lone graduates.

That’s the sun beam through the clouds.

Empirically, Serrano’s first and second seasons are nearly identical — an 8-22 SEC record followed by an 8-20 mark — but he says the narrative is different. Tennessee’s roster resembles a Western Civ class. Seventeen true freshmen played this season, more than any other NCAA Division I team.

“The difference is that we’re not rebuilding next year,” Serrano said. “We’re growing up.”

Simcox noted that he and his fellow freshmen wished more could have been done in Godley and Luther’s senior year.

That, Luther countered, should serve as an incentive not to repeat history.

“A lot of work needs to be done and it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said, adding, “The freshmen don’t want this to happen to them.”

Saturday’s win came in front of 1,971 fans. None of them want it to happen, either.

Serrano admitted it was nice to end on a high note, but no single triumph erases three months of troubles. He described another postseason-less campaign as, “The same empty feeling.”

Now focus shifts to the future forecast.

“We have some guys that are going to be eligible for the (Major League) draft,” Serrano said. “My hope is that they realize like I do that there’s a lot of unfinished business out there. I hope that everybody that has the chance to come back wants to come back and see this thing through.”

Brendan F. Quinn covers UT athletics. Follow him on Twitter at BFQuinn.

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Comments » 12

armyvol22 writes:

Tough season, but the good thing is the players will be a year older with a year under their belts. Looking forward to bigger things next year. GBO

huntined#565710 writes:

Need to feed these guys some pasta and put some weight on them looks like they avg about 170

xanga writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

Need to feed these guys some pasta and put some weight on them looks like they avg about 170

sounds like a nice healthy weight compared to most in our area.

SummittsCourt writes:

Give the team credit for not packing it in down four runs early. Shows some character that will hopefully pay off next season.

SummittsCourt writes:

A season that could have been very different...

3 one run losses to open the season at UNLV
Another one run loss vs. Notre Dame in Cary, NC
A 12 inning one run loss vs. Vandy
A two run loss to Longwood
A one run loss to SC in which UT had the lead late
A one run loss to UK again in which UT had the lead late
Another one run loss and a two run loss to Ole Miss - again late leads lost
A 10 inning one run loss to uf
A one run loss to Middle Tennessee st.
A one run loss to Georgia in which UT lost a late lead and the tying run was thrown out at the plate
Lost two winnable games to Georgie due to bad weather

Had things bounced UT's way a little differently this season might have been one to build on. I'm not saying UT would have won the SEC tournament, but they would have been in the tournament and who knows. Hopefully the coaches and players will use this season to learn and build on for next season and get better.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Find another arm in the rotation to compliment Godley and beef up the Bull Pen..This is not rocket science, it's baseball..

ONUV writes:

Godley is a senior. won't be back next year.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to ONUV:

Godley is a senior. won't be back next year.

They're in real trouble then..He was their only quality pitcher in the rotation.

us43137415#376444 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

A season that could have been very different...

3 one run losses to open the season at UNLV
Another one run loss vs. Notre Dame in Cary, NC
A 12 inning one run loss vs. Vandy
A two run loss to Longwood
A one run loss to SC in which UT had the lead late
A one run loss to UK again in which UT had the lead late
Another one run loss and a two run loss to Ole Miss - again late leads lost
A 10 inning one run loss to uf
A one run loss to Middle Tennessee st.
A one run loss to Georgia in which UT lost a late lead and the tying run was thrown out at the plate
Lost two winnable games to Georgie due to bad weather

Had things bounced UT's way a little differently this season might have been one to build on. I'm not saying UT would have won the SEC tournament, but they would have been in the tournament and who knows. Hopefully the coaches and players will use this season to learn and build on for next season and get better.

"If" is one of the smallest word in the English language.

It's also one of the biggest words.

"IF we had done this.. IF the ball had bounced over there... IF Houser had covered home plate better.. IF Price had drug his foot over the base when he caught the line drive... IF Smart had been covering 3rd instead of thinking line drive...

We've been hearing "IF" for the past 7 or 8 season with 3 different coaches.

It's called lackluster play.. a bunch of pretty boys on the field with no guidance, not many skills, but just enough moxy to make us cheer every once in a while.

So many seniors who've been there all 4 years, who've had moments of greatness, but eventually smothered by lackluster team play. Then, there was superior competition from basically mediocre teams, that somehow put something together to beat Tennessee.

The result? Yet another losing season for Tennessee.

Adams says "UT is taking baby steps." It's been 7 years. Take a pill, dude and call me in the morning. This team should not only be stepping and walking, but running track in the Olympics by now. We've certainly spent enough money on coaches and facilities.

Stop recruiting Farragut and the state of Tennessee. Raid Texas, California and Florida, where high school baseball players play 12 months a year.

I'm sick and tired of losers. So far, my alumni contributions to the UT sports programs have produced nothing but losers, in the baseball department.

THEKIDWISCONSIN writes:

What can you say but it was an incredibly disappointing year.

CDS's track record out west is clear...but with zero improvement from last season he's put himself in the cross hairs for next season. There are simply no more excuses in year three.

When I say that I'm not looking for an SEC title or a trip to Omaha. But there's got to be more improved & simply smarter baseball on the field.

Let's Go BaseVOLS! Hoover 2014!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to us43137415#376444:

"If" is one of the smallest word in the English language.

It's also one of the biggest words.

"IF we had done this.. IF the ball had bounced over there... IF Houser had covered home plate better.. IF Price had drug his foot over the base when he caught the line drive... IF Smart had been covering 3rd instead of thinking line drive...

We've been hearing "IF" for the past 7 or 8 season with 3 different coaches.

It's called lackluster play.. a bunch of pretty boys on the field with no guidance, not many skills, but just enough moxy to make us cheer every once in a while.

So many seniors who've been there all 4 years, who've had moments of greatness, but eventually smothered by lackluster team play. Then, there was superior competition from basically mediocre teams, that somehow put something together to beat Tennessee.

The result? Yet another losing season for Tennessee.

Adams says "UT is taking baby steps." It's been 7 years. Take a pill, dude and call me in the morning. This team should not only be stepping and walking, but running track in the Olympics by now. We've certainly spent enough money on coaches and facilities.

Stop recruiting Farragut and the state of Tennessee. Raid Texas, California and Florida, where high school baseball players play 12 months a year.

I'm sick and tired of losers. So far, my alumni contributions to the UT sports programs have produced nothing but losers, in the baseball department.

I understand your frustrations, but the baseball team is in a hole that took years to dig and it will take years to dig out of. UT missed the SEC tournament by a game and a half! Any of those two outcomes I listed were turned around and we would all be saying the team might be turning the corner. You can't always measure success by wins.

trevsmith3345 writes:

Will we lose anyone other than Godley? Williams, Price, and Smart are all draft eligible....think we get them all back?

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