UT freshman Cody Stubbs was 2-for-3 with a walk in the loss
March 6, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For the second straight day, the University of Tennessee baseball team (4-5) got a terrific effort from its starting pitcher but was unable to hold on in the late innings, falling to Kennesaw State, 4-2, Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville. Sophomore southpaw Steven Gruver pitched seven stellar innings, allowing just a single run on six hits while striking out six.
Despite his strong outing, Gruver did not factor into the decision after throwing 63 strikes in 98 pitches. He walked just one and retired 17 of the final 20 batters that he faced after allowing a solo home run to Owl shortstop Tyler Stubblefield in the third. Freshman Nick Blount suffered the loss for the Orange and White after KSU scored a pair of runs, both unearned, off of him in the eighth and another in the ninth.
The Big Orange offense was quiet through the first six innings before it was able to scratch a run across against KSU starter Josh Carr in the seventh. Although junior Cody Hawn fouled out to start the inning, fellow classmate Blake Forsythe followed with a single to center. First-year Vol Cody Stubbs punched one to the gap in right center just moments later, moving Forsythe up to third, but was thrown out at second trying to advance on the throw to put two outs up on the scoreboard.
The next batter, sophomore Charley Thurber, drew a pinch-hit walk on just five pitches to put runners on the corners and Zach Osborne was able to tie the game up with a single to left-center that brought Forsythe in from third. That would be all UT could manage though, as freshman pinch-hitter Chris Fritts took the first pitch he saw and flew out to right.
It didn't take long for Kennesaw State to respond, however, as it took advantage of a pair of Tennessee errors to tack on two more runs in the top of the eighth. Blount made quick work of the first batter he faced, getting Stubblefield to ground out to Matt Duffy at third on the second pitch of the inning. Back-to-back errors by the UT infield, however, put runners on the corners with just one out.
Blount was able to battle back to get a big out when Ronnie Freeman fouled out to Stubbs at first, but Drew Fowlkes followed with a single to left to bring one run home. Ross Tendler then doubled down the third-base line to plate the second run of the inning and put Kennesaw State up 4-1.
After the Vols went quietly in the bottom of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts and a flyout, the Owls went right back on the attack, adding an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Blount was able to get the first batter to groundout, but Stubblefield doubled to the gap in left-center and quickly moved up to third on a groundout by Josh Whitaker. Freeman then made it a three-run advantage for KSU with an RBI single to right. As it has done in each of the past three games, Tennessee attempted to mount a last-inning rally, but fell just short. Forsythe gave the Big Orange a leadoff runner when he was hit squarely in the back by a 2-2 curveball and Stubbs followed with a walk to put two men on base with no outs. Thurber then cut the UT deficit to just two with a single up the middle that scored Forsythe.
A fielder's choice on a groundball off the bat of Forsythe moved Stubbs to third, but erased Thurber from the basepaths and put the first out up on the board with Matt Hamaker coming up to the plate to pinch-hit for Duffy. He quickly fell behind in the count to Johnson 1-2, however, and drilled a grounder right at KSU third baseman Peyton Hart who was able to use it to start a game-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Tennessee will get right back at it, as the Vols will look to avenge their Friday evening loss to Binghamton at 5 p.m. at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.