Feb. 18, 2012
Recorded the first three-hit game by a Vol this season with a single and a pair of doubles. Also scored two runs and walked once.
Number of Vol fans that entered the gates at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on opening weekend, including a UT record for a season-opener, 2,812, on Friday.
Junior Drew Steckenrider's batting average after the opening weekend during which he was 5-for-8 with five runs scored, two doubles, a home run, two RBIs, four walks and a stolen base.
Number of free passes the Vols earned over the weekend, including both walks and hit batters.
Consecutive innings in which the Vols had at least one runner reach base.
Number of RBIs that junior Chris Fritts totaled on Saturday alone, which was exactly half of his total for the entire 2011 campaign.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee finished off the series sweep of Northern Illinois with a 7-2 victory in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
"I was proud of the way we played," Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano said. "Doubleheaders are hard to sweep. Sweeps are tough to come by, no matter who you are playing. This is our first series, our first weekend of the year and we have a lot to get to. Some stuff came out that we will have to get back to the drawing board and fix, but we still walk away with three wins and are excited about that.
"This was a big step and answers some questions. I saw some really good things and I saw some things that we are going to have to clean up a little bit. I got to see where our shortcomings are, but I am really excited about what I see materializing in this young pitching staff."
On the mound, junior Nick Blount tallied the victory with four scoreless frames. With his effort, Tennessee's three starters this weekend combined for 12.0 shutout innings.
Sophomore Carter Watson also added four strong innings of relief, striking out a career-high four batters while allowing just one run on two hits.
Leading the way offensively were junior Zach Luther who scored two runs and collected three hits, including a pair of doubles, and senior Chris Pierce who drove in three runs and stole a base. First-year Vols Will Maddox and Steve Weaver each had two hits as well.
After posting six RBIs in the first game of the day, junior Chris Fritts added another in the nightcap to give him seven on the day, exactly half of his entire total from the 2011 campaign.
"There was really nothing different at the plate for me except mentally, the sense of togetherness we have as a unit," Fritts said. "When I get in the batter's box, it's never one-on-one. Being in the right-handed batter's box, I have a direct view of the dugout and I feel like I have my teammates in the batter's box with me.
"It's really cool because I have never experienced that before and it's a really cliché thing to explain, but I know that if I don't get it done someone behind me is going to get it done. There is just faith in our teammates that we are a unit and the togetherness the coaching staff is bringing us is paying dividends for us now and will in the long run. We put so much work into our off season and our game as a team and really learning the system and buying into what out coaching staff brings to the table. It feels great to get a taste for how effective it is and understand that."
Tennessee put at least one runner on base in all 16 innings in which it came to bat in Saturday's doubleheader and has done so in 20 straight frames dating back to Friday's season opener. Over the first three games combined, the Big Orange offense was retired in order just twice.
"In a new system with a lot of new guys there is still a lot we have to get ironed out," Serrano said. "We had a lot of breakdowns, but still come away with three wins. We won't brush it under the rug and say we're 3-0. There is work still to be done and there will always be work to be done."
The Vols will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Western Kentucky at 3 p.m.