Feb. 16, 2013
LAS VEGAS - Down by four runs heading into the ninth inning, the Tennessee baseball team rallied to within one and loaded the bases before a hard-hit line drive to center was caught to end the game and give UNLV a 5-4 win in the nightcap of a doubleheader on Saturday.
"There is nobody in the program or in the dugout today that is wearing the Vol uniform that is proud that we are 1-2 right now, but as the coach of this program I go away tonight with a lot of good thoughts about what this team has done so far," UT head coach Dave Serrano said. "We knew there were going to be challenges. I think there are a lot of good things going on, it is just the things that we need to clean up.
"Those little things add up to why we were on the short end of a 5-4 game, but character-wise, I have no complaints at all about the way these guys are playing. They are playing hard, there is no quit and this is going to pay dividends for us down the line as we continue to grow up together, knowing that we can come back and we will start winning these games when we start cleaning up the things that we need to."
After scoring 17 runs in the first two games of the series, the Tennessee offense was held in check by UNLV starter Buddy Borden who struck out nine and allowed just one unearned run on four hits in 7.2 innings.
The top two hitters in UT's lineup, sophomore Will Maddox and freshman A.J. Simcox each finished with three hits in the contest to account for six of the team's nine hits, four of which came in the ninth inning.
The Vols actually got the scoring started in the contest, as Maddox drove the first pitch of the game into right for a leadoff single. He would later steal second with two outs before coming around to cross the plate on a UNLV error.
From there it was all Borden until he gave way to reliever Zack Hartman in the eighth inning. The Rebel offense, meanwhile, scratched across runs in the second and third frames before scoring twice more in the sixth and one more time in the seventh.
Despite trailing 5-1 going into the game's final stanza, the Vols refused to give in. After setting a school record with 92 hit batters last season, UT finally got its first of the 2013 season at a critical time as Andrew Lee took one off the back to lead off the ninth. Freshman Jeff Moberg then picked up his first collegiate hit with a single to center before Christin Stewart crushed an RBI double off the top of the wall in right field.
Now down by three and down to its last two outs after a strikeout, freshman David Houser loaded the bases for the Big Orange by taking one for the team off his right leg. Yet another freshman, Vincent Jackson cut the UNLV lead down to two as he brought a run in on an RBI fielder's choice. That would give the Vols a slim margin of error though as it left them with just one out to work with.
Maddox stood tall, however, stroking a single up the middle to make it a one-run game. Simcox followed with a chopper over the mound that went for an infield single and loaded the bases once again. Price then hit a pitch on the nose, but right at the centerfielder to end the contest with Tennessee one run short.
Freshman Matt Esparza suffered the loss in his collegiate debut after yielding a pair of runs in three innings of work.
The Orange and White will look to even the series in the weekend finale at 4:05 p.m. ET/1:05 p.m. PT on Sunday. The Vols will start a true freshman for the third consecutive game as right-hander Aaron Quillen gets the nod.