March 23, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Every Tennessee starter had at least one hit and seven knocked in at least one run as the Volunteers (11-10) cruised to a 9-1 victory over USC Upstate (7-15) Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville. Freshman Cody Stubbs hit the first home run of his collegiate career and junior Blake Forsythe launched his third of the season to help pace the Big Orange to the win.
"We hit some balls hard and got some runs out of it," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "It was good to have (Josh) Liles in their again. He changes the complexion of our lineup. Also, (Blake) Forsythe really showed some signs of breaking out of it today. We need those guys to get where we want to go and they showed why tonight."
On the mound, junior Rob Catapano earned his second win of the year with four strong innings, allowing just one run on four hits while striking three and walking two. The Big Orange bullpen then took over as six relief pitchers combined to throw five shutout innings with nine strikeouts, no walks and just two hits.
"Rob didn't necessarily have his best stuff tonight, but he always pitches with a lot of heart," Raleigh said. "We like playing behind him. For some reason we score runs when he pitches. I still think there is some room for him to get better, but his effort and heart are always good."
In addition to his solo shot in the eighth inning, Forsythe also added an RBI single in the fourth and scored a pair of runs. Fellow classmate Josh Liles had two hits as well in his return to the lineup after missing three straight games. Juniors P.J. Polk and Cody Hawn, who drew three walks, also came home to score twice in the contest.
Although the Spartans were the first to crack the scoreboard with one run following a walk, a bunt and a single in the opening frame, Tennessee responded two-fold in its half of the inning and never looked back. Polk got the ball rolling for the Big Orange when he led off the bottom of the first by reaching on a throwing error by the shortstop. A walk to Hawn and another error, this time by the third baseman on a hard hit ball by Forsythe, gave the Vols their first run of the day. UT added another just moments later when sophomore Charley Thurber singled up the middle to bring Hawn home from second.
Stubbs added another run to the Orange and White's tally on the scoreboard in the second stanza when he took a 1-1 changeup and punched it the opposite way. He got just enough loft on it as it carried over the wall in left for his first collegiate home run.
After being held scoreless in the third, Tennessee erupted for five runs on six hits in the fourth to take a commanding 8-1 advantage. It took the Vols just three pitches to score their first run as junior Khayyan Norfork looped the first pitch he saw to shallow center. Sprinting straight out of the box, he was simply able to out-hustle the Spartans and earned himself a double as he slid safely headfirst into second. Polk then followed with a single just two pitches later to bring him home.
It looked like USC Upstate pitcher Jordan Rusk had picked Polk off mere seconds later, but Polk used his blazing speed to reach second safely. The throw from the first baseman on the play traveled all the way out to left field, allowing Polk to move up 90 feet to third. Liles then proceeded to knock him in with a single through the left side of the infield. Hawn and Forsythe then followed suit with one-base hits of their own to plate Liles and put runners at first and second with nobody out.
That would not last long though as Thurber flew out to left on a 3-2 count. Sophomore Zach Osborne got the Orange and White rolling again, however, executing a hit-and-run to perfection to allow Hawn to touch the plate for Tennessee's fourth run of the inning. The Big Orange would add one more shortly thereafter on an RBI groundout by junior Matt Duffy to second.
After the UT offensive explosion, freshmen Nick Blount and Drew Steckenrider, sophomores Dylan Hochevar, Will Locante and Matt Ramsey and redshirt junior D.J. Leffler were absolutely fantastic out of the bullpen, tossing five straight zeroes up on the scoreboard to close out the game.
The final Tennessee run came in the eighth when Forsythe launched a moon shot down the line in left. He had already hit two similar bombs during the game, but both had hooked just foul. This one, however, stayed true and landed well past "The Porch" for his third longball of the season to run the score to the eventual game-ending mark of 9-1 in favor of UT.
The Big Orange will now turn its attention to No. 4 LSU who it will host for three games this weekend. The series will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 26, followed by a 3 p.m. contest the next day and a 2 p.m. showdown on Sunday. Friday's game will be broadcast on CSS, while FOX Sports Net will televise the contest on Saturday. For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.