March 30, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee baseball team (12-13) wasted little time jumping ahead of Tennessee Tech on Tuesday, scoring all nine of its runs in the first three innings en route to a 9-3 victory at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Juniors P.J. Polk and Cody Hawn paced the Volunteers with a pair of three-hit performances and senior Aaron Tullo earned his first win of the season with five strong innings on the mound.
"It was good to see us get out to a quick start offensively tonight and I thought we pitched well the entire game," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "I was really excited about what we got from (Aaron) Tullo, (Dylan) Hochevar and (D.J.) Leffler tonight. Tullo was as good as I have seen him all year and that was probably the best I've seen out of Dylan in the last two years. He had all three of his pitches working tonight."
In addition to his three hits, which included his third home run of the season and second in two games, Polk also stole his team-high 13th base of the year, knocked in a season-high four runs and scored two more. With the effort, he extended his current hitting streak to a season-best six games. Hawn finished 3-for-5 with three singles and two runs in the win, while sophomores Zach Osborne and Matt Ramsey also scored a pair of runs, with Ramsey going 1-for-3 with a walk and Osborne punching out two singles.
On the mound, Tullo tied his career-high with five innings of work, allowing just two runs on five hits. He also struck out four and walked just two on 81 pitches. Sophomore Dylan Hochevar posted a strong performance as well, coming out of the bullpen to twirl 2.1 scoreless innings, striking out one and giving up just two hits. Junior D.J. Leffler closed out the contest with a perfect inning of work in the ninth.
After a scoreless top half of the first by Tullo, the Vols staked him to an early lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. Polk got things started for the Big Orange with a leadoff single and junior Khayyan Norfork followed suit with a bunt single of his own on the very next pitch. A third straight base-knock, this one by Hawn, loaded the bases with nobody out. That quickly changed though, as junior Blake Forsythe grounded one right back to the pitcher who tossed it right back to the plate to start a 1-2-3 double play. Tennessee was not going to come away empty-handed, however, and junior Liles laced a single to center to bring home both remaining runners.
Although Tennessee Tech got on the board in the second inning with a run after a single, stolen base and a double, the Orange and White answered with four more runs in its half of the frame. Ramsey got the stanza started by drawing a four-pitch walk and Osborne followed two batters later with a single to right-center to put runners on the corners with one out. After working the count to 3-2, Polk singled up the middle to plate Ramsey and move Osborne to third.
Just seconds later, Polk took off for second and slid in safely with a stolen base. When the Golden Eagles tried to gun Polk down, Osborne took off for home and scored easily when the throw from the shortstop sailed past the catcher. Polk advanced to third on the error before moving up the final 90 feet just two pitches later when Hawn singled to right. After Forsythe walked, Hawn scored an unearned run from second when Liles reached on another throwing error by the shortstop.
Following a quick frame by Tullo, the Vols picked up right where they left off in the bottom of third, putting three more tallies on the scoreboard, all on Polk's longball to left-center. Just like he did in the second, Ramsey gave UT a leadoff baserunner, this time with a single to left. Following a strikeout, Osborne laid down a perfect drag bunt past the pitcher on the first-base side of the infield to put runners on first and second for Polk.
Despite falling behind in the count, 1-2, Polk shortened up his swing and deposited the next pitch over the fence for his third home run of the season. From there, the Vol pitching staff took over, allowing just single runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to bring the score to its final mark of 9-3.
The Big Orange will be back in action Wednesday night when it hosts Presbyterian College at 7 p.m. at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Following that contest, the Vols will head to Oxford, Miss., for a three-game set against No. 11 Ole Miss, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. CT match-up on Friday, April 2. For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.