Feb. 28, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
CORVALLIS, Ore. - The University of Tennessee baseball team was unable to take advantage of a sterling performance by senior Stephen McCray, falling 1-0 to No. 10 Oregon State Sunday afternoon at Goss Stadium in Corvallis, Ore. The 6-4 right-hander threw seven terrific innings, allowing just one run on three hits with four strikeouts and two walks in the tough-luck loss.
McCray threw 85 pitches during his time on the mound with 57 going for strikes. At one point in the game he sat down 16 straight OSU hitters. He falls to 1-1 on the season after picking up a win in his 2010 debut against Xavier last weekend. Unfortunately for McCray, Oregon State starter Greg Peavey was equally as impressive, tossing a complete-game shutout with nine strikeouts and just one walk while scattering three hits.
"You don't see many games played that well in February," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "The defense and pitching for both sides was fantastic. Sometimes early in the year the pitching is a little ahead of the hitting, but I thought our guys battled hard and hit the ball pretty hard. "Oregon State is a great team though and they don't give you anything. You have to earn everything. I thought this was a regional-type atmosphere and a regional-type game in terms of the high-level of play."
The lone tally of the game came in the seventh inning when the Beavers were able to scratch across a run on back-to-back hits by Brandon Hayes and Parker Berberet. With one out in the inning, Hayes punched one the opposite way down the left-field line for a stand-up double. Berberet followed with a single to center that brought Hayes home to score.
The Vols were able to escape further damage, however, as freshman Chris Fritts made a spectacular diving grab near the wall in left. Not only that, but he was able to turn a quick somersault, get back to his feet and get the ball back to Zach Osborne who doubled up the runner at first on the relay throw to end the Beaver threat.
Unfortunately for fans of the Orange and White, Tennessee was unable to get anything going offensively against Peavey over the last two innings and Oregon State walked away with the narrow win.
Back in the leadoff spot after hitting in the three-hole on Saturday, P.J. Polk grounded out to short to start the game, but the Vols quickly put a pair of runners on as a curveball got away from Peavey and hit Zach Osborne in the back and Cody Hawn walked on four pitches. Nothing would come of it though, as Blake Forsythe ripped a one-hopper to short that the Beavers turned into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
McCray struggled with his control a little bit early on and found himself in a bit of a jam, but the 6-4 right-hander was able to work out of it to keep the game scoreless through one. After getting OSU leadoff hitter Michael Miller to chase a high fastball for the first out, McCray walked consecutive batters to put runners on first and second with just one out. With Beaver cleanup hitter Stefen Romero up to bat, a passed ball really made things interesting, allowing both runners to advance 90 feet. McCray continued to battle though and was able to escape unscathed after getting Romero to pop out to third and Hayes to ground out to second.
After the Vols went quietly in the top half of the second, McCray took advantage of a couple of great plays by his defense to throw up a zero of his own on the scoreboard. The first out came on a routine groundout to Matt Duffy at third, but the next two were anything but routine, as Osborne and Duffy both made terrific bare-handed grabs to end the frame. Osborne fielded a slow roller to short after McCray jammed Carter Bell with a cutter and Duffy scooped up a bunt attempt by Tyler Smith.
Both pitchers dispatched their opposing hitters with little problem in the third, but both Hawn and Cody Stubbs put a couple of good swings on Peavey in the fourth. Neither got anything to show for it, however, as they both hit sharp line drives right at Adalberto Santos in center. McCray had little trouble in his half of the stanza, utilizing his cutter to catch all three batters looking at strike three.
With two outs in the fifth, Fritts poked the first pitch he saw down the right-field line and was just able to slide in under the tag at second to pick up his second double in as many days. The Vols could not take advantage though as Peavey got Khayyan Norfork swinging at a high fastball to bring the Beaver offense back up to the plate. It wasn't up there long, however, as McCray continued to roll, retiring the side in order via a pair of groundouts and a pop out to Norfork at second.
Peavey didn't waste any time in his next inning, sending the Vols back to the bench in order. Oregon State finally got to McCray in the bottom half of the stanza though when Santos singled to left to break up McCray's no-hit bid after 5 2/3 innings of hitless work. McCray was unfazed, however, and got Jered Norris to ground out to second to keep the dueling shutout intact, although that wouldn't last much longer either as the Beavers would score the only run of the game in the following frame.
After OSU finally cracked the scoreboard on the RBI single by Berberet, Peavey posted probably his most impressive evening of the night, coming out and going right after the UT hitters. He was able to get Forsythe to strike out swinging on a 1-2 curveball, but Stubbs followed with one of the best UT swings of the game, driving a high drive deep to the warning track in left-center. It would fall harmlessly into Miller's glove, however, and Peavey finished off the inning by getting Duffy to ground out to his counterpart at third.
Sophomore closer Matt Ramsey came on in relief of McCray in the eighth inning and ran into a little trouble as he had trouble hitting his spots. The Knoxville, native, walked the bases loaded around a sac bunt and fly out, to bring Oregon State cleanup hitter Stefen Romero to the plate with two outs and three on. Ramsey made his pitches when they mattered most though, and got Romero to ground out to second to keep the Orange and White hopes alive.
Peavey was not going to let those dreams live much longer though, and made quick work of the Vols in the final frame. After getting both Polk and Osborne to ground out to short, Hawn did give the UT faithful one last glimmer of hope with a single through the right side, but Peavey had other ideas and struck Forsythe out looking on a 3-2 inside curveball to finish off the game.
Tennessee will look to get back in the win column this Wednesday when it returns to Knoxville for a 4 p.m. showdown with Eastern Kentucky at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.