Feb. 28, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Senior Nick Williams tossed seven two-hit innings and four Vols had multi-hit games as the No. 28 Tennessee baseball team improved to 8-0 on the season with a dominating 13-2 win over Quinnipiac on Friday.
The 8-0 mark ties the best start in 105 seasons of Vol baseball history. Tennessee started both the 1992 and 2003 seasons with eight-straight victories.
The Vols tallied 13 runs off 13 hits and limited Quinnipiac (0-4) to just three hits in front of 1,812 fans at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The night officially began with the ceremonial first pitch, tossed by Jane Nelson, the wife of the late Eric Nelson and mother of Quinnipiac sophomore Ryan Nelson. Eric, a longtime supporter of the Vols and owner of Gourmet's Market and Cosmo's Café in Knoxville, passed away on Feb. 9 after a lengthy battle with cancer. To honor his memory, Jane threw out the first pitch to her son Ryan, a Knoxville Catholic High School graduate and current Quinnipiac player.
"I hope tonight was special," said head coach Dave Serrano. "Eric Nelson was a friend that I met three years ago, a great individual. I know tonight was probably a very emotional night for (the family). Win, lose or draw, I hope the Nelsons realize from the Tennessee family, how much respect we have for them and for Eric. Eric wasn't here tonight physically, but I know he was here tonight."
Williams earned his third win of the young season with a seven-inning, two-hit performance on the mound. He threw a season-high 87 pitches, allowing just one run, walking one and striking out five in the outing.
At the plate, Scott Price, Vincent Jackson, David Houser and Taylor Smart all had two hits. Price and junior infielder Will Maddox each posted three RBIs. Maddox was 1-for-1 with a three-run homer, two runs scored and three walks.
Tennessee shined at the plate with two outs on Friday. For the game, the Vols combined for six walks, eight hits - including two doubles and a homer - and nine RBIs when hitting with two down.
"That was important, and it wasn't just the two-out RBI production, it was the two-outs nobody on and we get a base hit, or we get a double, and next thing you know we have two or three on the board," said Serrano. "That is huge. That's sustaining innings right there. That's not guys shuffling to find their gloves with two outs because we're going on defense. That's guys believing in themselves and believing in the hitter in front of them and the hitters behind them to keep sustaining innings and those are back-breakers for teams."
After a scoreless first inning, Houser got things going for the Vols in the second with a single through the left side. Two batters later, Smart drove the ball back up the middle, striking second base, causing the ball to roll into right field, which allowed Houser to advance to third. Hitting in the nine hole, Maddox blasted a 2-0 pitch over the right field wall to put UT on top 3-0.
After retiring six in a row to start the game, Williams allowed his first hit in the top of the third. However, with the help of Houser, the Vols were able to get out of the inning in order as the catcher picked off Quinnipiac's Lou Iannotti at first base.
Williams got three quick groundouts, including two to Maddox at second, to send the Bobcats down in order in the fourth. The Vols tacked on another run in the bottom half as Price doubled to left center with two outs, scoring Maddox and putting UT up 5-0. The double extended Price's hit streak to 20 games, dating back to April 26, 2013 at Florida. Price is now tied with former Vol Kris Bennett for the fourth-longest hit streak in program history. Tennessee legend Condredge Holloway holds the record at 27 games.
Quinnipiac got on the board in the fifth inning, as Vincent Guglietti led off the frame with a double down the right field line. Guglietti advanced to third on a wild pitch from Williams and would score on a groundout to the right side.
Tennessee added to its SEC lead in triples in the fifth inning, as Jackson drilled a two-RBI line drive down the right field line to put Tennessee up 7-1. Jackson made it 8-1 when Nathaniel Maggio hit into a 4-6-3 double play. The Vols now have six triples in 2014.
Williams kept the Bobcats off the board again in the sixth, sitting them down in order with two of his five strikeouts. The senior retired the first three batters he faced in six of his seven innings of work.
The Vols tacked on five more runs in the sixth inning, with all five coming with two outs, to take a 13-1 lead. Quinnipiac scored one run off reliever Josh Peterson in the ninth to bring it to the final margin of 13-2. Peterson threw two innings of one-hit ball and struck out two in his UT debut.
Tennessee looks for the best start in program history on Saturday, when the Vols and Bobcats square off for game two at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. First pitch is at 2 p.m. ET. Fans can bring their men's basketball vs. Vanderbilt ticket stub and receive free admission.