Dave Serrano discusses Vols' win over Tennessee Tech
Dave Serrano on UT baseball team's upcoming series with Georgia
COOKEVILLE — On a night the Tennessee baseball team left three of its best arms back home, a committee of pitchers combined to slow down an opponent with plenty of power.
UT beat Tennessee Tech 10-1 at Bush Stadium on Tuesday, improving its all-time record against the in-state opponent to 67-29-1.
Seven UT pitchers took the mound, and together they held Tennessee Tech, which has homered 38 times this season, to just four hits. The Golden Eagles struck out 11 times and stranded nine runners. Sophomore right-hander Trevor Bettencourt (1-1), who replaced starter Bret Marks in a 1-1 tie after two innings, claimed his first win of the season thanks to his two innings of work. But he had plenty of help. Drake Owenby, Peter Lenstrohm, Andy Cox, Josh Peterson and Andrew Lee gave up just one hit in their five combined innings.
“I’m very happy with the way we pitched tonight,” UT coach Dave Serrano said. “I always find a little bit of a negative in there. Too many walks (six), because I want to be a perfectionist. But I’m very happy with the way we competed. Because that is a very good offensive team. They have some tremendous numbers. We held them at bay and we did a good job continuing to string together some runs.”
UT left fielder Christin Stewart, who finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, broke the tie in the fourth when he turned on a full-count pitch thrown by starter Jacob Honea (3-2). The two-run shot traveled more than 365 feet and disappeared into a darkening sky that started spitting rain in the third inning and cut a sizeable crowd down.
“It was big,” Serrano said of Stewart’s team-high fourth home run of the season.
More cushion came in the seventh when pinch hitter Vincent Jackson blooped a ball over a drawn-in infield to score Taylor Smart, whose single started the inning. Later, Will Maddox, who finished 3-for-5, scored Nathaniel Maggio (2-for-4) on a fielder’s choice. It was Maggio’s 12th RBI of the season.
UT ended any uncertainty with a four-hit, five-run inning that capitalized on a throwing error.
While UT (22-9, 5-7 SEC) has now tied its win total from last season with 23 regular season games left to play, the victory didn’t help the Vols shake free from the gridlock that is the current SEC standings. Headed into Tuesday’s game, the league’s 14 teams were spread somewhere between 8-4 (Alabama) and 4-8 (Missouri), and the difference between the top six teams in the East Division was just two games.
But for a group that begins a three-game series at Georgia (19-13-1, 5-6-1) on Thursday (TV: ESPNU, 7:30 p.m.), the lopsided win against Tennessee Tech kept the momentum moving forward.
Fresh off their series victory against Vanderbilt, the Vols avoided the kind of mid-week stumble they fell victim to against East Tennessee State in a 2-1 loss on April 2. Instead, UT notched its third win in a row in a game where its expected starters for the Georgia series — Nick Williams, Hunter Martin and Kyle Serrano — rested.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game, especially after what we came off of this weekend, the high we were on,” Serrano said. “You come over in maybe not of big of an atmosphere that we have been playing in. But we didn’t fall into that trap, and I’m really proud of our guys for that.”