March 6, 2004
Knoxville, Tenn. - The Tennessee Volunteers tied the school record for consecutive home victories at 15, but it didn't come easy as Sean Watson and Scot Drucker had to out-duel Georgia State's crafty left-hander Ben Rulon for a 1-0 victory before a crowd of 1,266 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The lone run came in the sixth as two fielding errors by third baseman Ryan Clark led to Eric King plating the only tally. It was Tennessee's first 1-0 win since defeating Arkansas by that count in May 2003.
Despite not having his top fastball, Watson (2-1) scattered five hits over eight innings in picking up the win. He was also the benefactor of a few outstanding plays by catcher Nick Crowe.
Crowe single-handedly killed any Panther threat through the first four innings by throwing out a runner stealing in the first for the third out and then picking off another to end the second. But his top play of the day came in the fourth as laid out down the third base line to catch a bunted ball by Justin Newman and then threw to first recording a double play.
"I felt good and strong even though my fastball wasn't there," said Watson. "On days like this when it's not, you have to make due and hit your spots. We've got to know how to win games like this. You have to bear down and keep your focus."
Scot Drucker pitched the ninth, picking up his second consecutive save against the Panthers and third of the season.
Georgia State's only real scoring threat came in the eighth as two runners reached on a single and hit batsman. Then with two-out, center fielder Eric Suttle worked the count full and fouled off six straight pitches before Watson struck him out on a 91-mph fastball.
"He really battled in the eighth. It was the first time they put pressure on me the whole game," said Watson.
Even though the Vols (10-2) managed just four hits off Rulon (0-3), who went the distance for the Panthers who fell to 4-7, Tennessee coach Rod Delmonico was pleased with his pitchers.
"Give them credit. They kept us off balance with their off speed stuff," said Delmonico. "We tried to do too much with the bats. We've gone away from our approach of using the middle of the field.
"We pitched well and it was a good win. There are days you don't hit and need your pitching. This was one of those days. We need games like this. We don't need to keep blowing people out. We need to know how to win in close games."
The Vols go for their 16th straight home and third straight three-game series sweep, Sunday at 2 p.m.