March 4, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Christin Stewart, Scott Price and Will Maddox blasted home runs and the Vols' pitching staff held La Salle to just three hits to lead No. 19 Tennessee to a 14-0 shutout victory on Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Tennessee improves on the best start in program history, picking up its 11th consecutive win to start the 2014 season. The Vols are one of just two unbeaten teams remaining in the nation (South Carolina). La Salle, out of the Atlantic-10 Conference, falls to 1-10 on the season with the loss.
"It was a good night overall," said head coach Dave Serrano. "We won 14-0 and only walked one guy in the ninth. I don't think we gave up a hit after the third inning. We got 21 guys in the game so guys are feeling like they are a part of this."
Freshman right-hander Hunter Martin earned the first win of his young career, allowing just three hits and striking out four over three innings of work. It was his first start and appearance since UT's season opener against Purdue.
Josh Peterson, Andy Cox, Trevor Charpie, Dalton Saberhagen and Zac Grotz pitched in relief and did not give up a hit to the Explorers for the rest of the contest. The Vol relievers retired 17 in a row from the third to eighth inning, when La Salle's George Smith Jr. reached on an error. Tennessee walked just one all game, coming with one out in the ninth.
"I am really happy that we are getting a lot of good performances from different guys on the mound," said Serrano. "We are actually building a pitching staff. This is an easy series to look past. There is a road trip coming and guys are excited. We are going to Arizona State where it is warm, and it's easy to look past, but the team played well tonight."
After two and a half scoreless frames, the Vols got on the board with a two-RBI single from sophomore shortstop A.J. Simcox, sending Price and Taylor Smart to score. Simcox proceeded to steal second and third - bringing his season total to a team-high tying four stolen bags. Maddox then drove his teammate in on a sac fly to right field. Stewart then sent a 2-2 pitch over the right center fence to put the Vols up 4-0. It was the sophomore's second home run in as many games.
Peterson breezed through the middle innings, sitting the Explorers down in order for three-consecutive innings. The junior college transfer struck out three and threw just 32 pitches in his three innings of work.
Price led off the bottom of the seventh with a 390-foot blast to right center - his second home run of the season. After a Simcox single, Maddox delivered his second long ball of the campaign over the right field wall. It was the first time UT has hit three home runs in a game since May 11, 2011 at Middle Tennessee State.
"We are going to hit some balls over the fence," said Serrano. "As the weather gets warmer, I think we will start to see it. It is not what we emphasis our game on. We are going to steal bases and execute, but we have enough good athletes in our lineup that you are going to start seeing that."
Stewart landed a base hit safely in right field and newcomer Johnny Youngblood picked up his first hit as a Vol, a pinch-hit knock through the right side. It was the fifth-straight hit for UT, which took a 9-0 lead after the seventh.
The Vols piled on five more runs in the eighth inning, with the big hit coming from substitution Jeff Moberg. The sophomore from Murrieta, Calif., cleared the bases with a three-RBI double through the right side. Youngblood also added a double down the right field line in the inning. In total, 21 Vols appeared in the contest.
Tennessee and La Salle return to action in Knoxville on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Junior college transfer and right-handed pitcher Bret Marks will make his Vol debut on the hill. La Salle will send out southpaw Jorge Jimenez. The game will be broadcast live for free on UTSports.com/allaccess.