March 13, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee had no answer for Tennessee Tech starting pitcher Seth Lucio as the freshman twirled 8.1 innings of one-run ball to lead the Golden Eagles to a 5-1 victory over the Volunteers on Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
"We have got to find another gear to compete at," UT head coach Dave Serrano said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy. It's never going to be easy and I think we are backing down when it gets tough. We have to be a team that is committed to one thing and that is playing together for the success of the team.
"Since we've hit this skid, it has become about the results and I don't like that feeling because this is a team sport. We got out-grinded tonight. I tip my hat to Tennessee Tech. Their mentality was better than ours. Their at-bats were better, they were tougher outs, they took better swings, made better pitches. They deserved to win the game."
In just his second career start, Lucio struck out 11 and scattered five hits before handing the ball over to Ben Burgess for the final two outs of the game. The Vols finally got on the scoreboard once Lucio was removed when Wes Walker ripped a pinch-hit double down the line in left to bring in UT's only run of the game.
Tennessee freshman Conner Stevens suffered the loss in his first collegiate start despite allowing just one run in his three innings of work.
Fellow classmate Will Maddox led the way at the plate for the Big Orange, reaching in four of his five plate appearances with three singles and a walk. It was the first career three-hit contest for the Gainesville, Ga., native who now has an eight-game hitting streak, the longest by a Tennessee player this season.
Another first-year Vol, Jared Allen reached three times as well, recording a single, a walk and getting hit by a pitch for a team-leading seventh time this season. Senior Zach Osborne had the team's only other hit on the day as the Vols finished with six.
"The at-bats that Jared and Will gave us were indicative of experienced players even though they are freshmen," Serrano said. "They fought and fought and gave us quality at-bats, and that is all we are asking of our guys. We never ask them to get hits, just quality at-bats."
The Golden Eagles got on the board first when Zach Stephens connected on the first pitch of the second inning to launch a solo home run to left, his sixth longball of the season.
The Vols threatened to break through in the bottom of the fifth, putting two on with one out. After an infield pop-up, Maddox reached base for the third time in the game on a walk to load the bases, but a flyball to center off the bat of Zach Osborne.
In the very next frame, the Golden Eagles padded their lead with two more runs on two-out RBI singles by Michael Morris and Evan Frazier. Their first scoring opportunity of the inning was nixed by some good Vol defense, however. With one out and a runner at third, Zephan Guyear laid down a safety squeeze. UT first baseman Davis Morgan came home on the play to retire the runner 3-2-5-2-5.
Tennessee Tech tacked on another tally in the seventh, taking advantage of UT's second error of the night to bring home another two out run. Once again, the Vols kept more runs off the board with their defense though. With two runners in scoring position, Osborne ranged far to his left to gobble up a slow roller up the middle and made an accurate off-balance throw on the run to get the final out of the frame at first.
The Vols fall to 10-6 with the loss while Tennessee Tech improves to 6-10. The Big Orange will hit the road to open SEC play this weekend as it travels to Athens, Ga., for a three-game set with No. 19 Georgia.