March 5, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee baseball team (4-4) was unable to take advantage of a stellar pitching effort by junior Bryan Morgado, as it dropped its third consecutive game, coming out on the short end of a 7-4 decision to Binghamton Friday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.
Morgado went seven strong innings, surrendering just two runs on five hits while striking out six and walking one. The 6-3 southpaw's seven innings and 103 pitches were both season highs. Offensively, junior outfielders Josh Liles and P.J. Polk led the way. Liles, currently hitting .500 on the season, finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, an RBI and a run scored, while Polk had his third three-hit game of the year in addition to collecting a walk and a stolen base.
Despite Morgado's strong start, the Bearcats were able to get to the Volunteer bullpen, scoring four runs in the eighth and another in the ninth en route to the win. Binghamton (1-4) earned its first win of the season behind the strong pitching of James Giulietti (5.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER) and Robert Rogers (2.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER), who earned the victory.
As it has done several times this season, UT battled back and brought the tying run to the plate in the game's final inning. The attempted comeback was thwarted though, as BU pitcher Alex Adami was able to get Blake Forsythe swinging to end the game.
"We're just not playing well right now, that's all there is to it," Raleigh said. "We're not playing with enough conviction right now. We're trying to do the right things but we're just not getting any big hits. We're not doing the things we need to do and some guys that need to produce aren't producing.
"It's hard, but we have to wake up early tomorrow and play 18 innings. We have to check out some character on this team. It's not an end-all by any means. We're going to be a good team but we have to have a gut-check tomorrow and come back strong."
Binghamton started the scoring in the third when it scratched across the only two runs Morgado would allow. After Jim Calderone and Henry Dunn opened the stanza with back-to-back singles, consecutive groundouts plated both runners.
It took until the bottom of the sixth, but UT finally put a tally on the scoreboard. Liles was able to lay off a 3-2 fastball that missed just outside for a leadoff walk and junior Cody Hawn brought him home all the way from first with an opposite-field double to left-center. That would be all the Big Orange could manage during the inning though, as a flyout and groundouts to the second and third basemen ended the threat.
Tennessee tied the game up in the bottom of the seventh, playing small ball to knot the score back up at 2-2. Pinch-hitting for Matt Duffy, freshman Cody Stubbs poked one deep to the hole at short for an infield single. Although sophomore Zach Osborne was called out on the next play, when his bunt attempt bounced up and hit him, Polk and junior Khayyan Norfork followed with a walk and a hit-by-pitch, respectively, to load the bases for Liles with just one out. The Jackson, Tenn., native was able to lift the first pitch he saw just deep enough into center to plate Stubbs with a sacrifice fly.
The score would not remain tied for long, however, as Binghamton answered with a four-spot in the eighth. After junior Spencer Clifft recorded a quick out on a flyball to right, the Bearcats tacked on two quick tallies with a single and a home run. Two more singles followed, the second off sophomore Will Locante, before BU scored its third run of the frame on a perfectly executed safety squeeze. The fourth and final run of the stanza came moments later when C.J. Lukaszewski laid down another perfect bunt for an RBI single.
The Vols inched closer in the bottom of the inning with a solo blast by Forsythe, but Binghamton got it right back in the top of the ninth with a walk, a stolen base, an error and a double moving the tally on the scoreboard to 7-3 in favor of the Bearcats.
Much like it did on Wednesday night, the Big Orange attempted to mount a courageous comeback in the final inning only to fall just short with the bases loaded. Osborne got the frame started, battling back from down 0-2 in the count to lace a double down the left-field line. Polk followed with a single and walks by Liles and senior Matt Hamaker, sandwiched around a pair of strikeouts brought Osborne home and loaded the bases for Forsythe. Unfortunately for fans of the Orange and White, that would be the end of the road for UT as Adami struck Forsythe out on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
The Vols will be back in action twice on Saturday, facing Kennesaw State at 1 p.m. and Binghamton again at 5 p.m. For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.