April 4, 2012
Was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, an RBI and a walk. It was his fourth career three-hit performance
Tennessee played its third consecutive errorless contest and 12th of the season.
The Vols won their sixth straight game and Nick Blount tallied his sixth save in the last six games.
The run allowed by Dalton Saberhagen in the sixth was the first earned run he has allowed this year, snapping a season-opening run of 11.1 innings without an earned run over his first 11 appearances..
Memphis' run in the fifth was the first against the UT bullpen since March 27, snapping a shutout streak of 17.2 innings.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee scored four runs in the second inning and junior Nick Blount recorded a save for the sixth consecutive game as the Volunteers defeated Memphis, 6-3, in the first meeting between the two teams since 1995 on a rainy Wednesday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The two teams waited out a rain delay of one hour and 12 minutes in the top of the fifth inning to complete the contest. UT improves to 19-10 on the season with the win, while the Tigers fall to 12-17.
The victory closed out a 10-game homestand for the Vols, who went 8-2 during that stretch with wins in each of the last six contests. Wednesday's victory was UT head coach Dave Serrano's first over an in-state team at Tennessee.
"I don't look at any in-state win (as being bigger than) any other win," Serrano said. "A win is a win and we had to fight and claw for that one. We will take it.
"I like dog fights because I think they bring out mental toughness, but I always like a couple extra runs in the last inning because it gives a little extra cushion so if someone does make a mistake you do have a little room for error. We were able to extend that (lead) and Nick (Blount) came out and did a great job tonight."
Sophomore Dalton Saberhagen (3-0) picked up the win for Tennessee, allowing a run in 1.2 innings after working out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam in the fifth. Memphis starting pitcher Michael Wills (1-1) suffered the loss, yielding four runs on six hits in three innings on the mound.
At the plate, freshman Will Maddox was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk. It marked his fourth career three-hit performance and second in the last four games. He is now hitting .314 on the season.
Chris Fritts also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3, while five different Vols drove in runs in the contest.
Tennessee exploded for four runs on five hits in the bottom of the second, falling just a home run short of the cycle with two singles, a pair of doubles and a triple. After a quick first out, Fritts laid down a perfect push bunt to reach on an infield single. Chris Pierce immediately followed with a triple to right-center to put the first run of the game on the board.
Just seconds later, Wes Walker made it two extra-base hits in a row with a double to the corner in right to make it 2-0 Vols. A great play by Memphis third baseman Jacob Wilson on a hard-hit ball down the line put the second out on the board, but UT was undeterred using another double, this one by Maddox and a run-scoring single by Zach Luther to jump ahead 4-0.
Memphis threatened to put a dent in the Tennessee lead in the top of the third, loading the bases with just one out, but UT starter Robbie Kidd buckled down to limit the damage, allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly.
After a scoreless fourth inning, rain and lightning hit in the top of the fifth, forcing a delay of one hour and 12 minutes. Play resumed with a runner on first and nobody out and Memphis promptly got a single to center. A walk then loaded the bases before a hit batter brought in a Tiger run and forced the Vols to change pitchers.
Saberhagen entered the game with the bases loaded and nobody out and delivered a huge boost for the Vols, getting a big strikeout before inducing an inning-ending 5-3 double play that kept the Vol lead at two.
The run allowed by the Vols in the fifth snapped a streak of 17.2 shutout innings posted by the bullpen, spanning the last five games.
Saberhagen's effort loomed large in the next frame as Memphis cut the UT lead to just one, scoring the first earned run of the season against Saberhagen on an RBI groundout from Keaton Aldridge that brought the tally on the scoreboard to 4-3.
The Vols tacked on an insurance run in the seventh to push the lead back to two at 5-3. Freshman pinch-hitter Jake Rowland entered the game after a one-out single by Davis Morgan. A balk moved him up to second before Rowland laced a 2-1 offering to right for his first career extra-base hit, an RBI double.
UT added one more for safe measure in the eighth as Maddox recorded his third hit of the evening, moved to second on a groundout and then came home to score on back-to-back wild pitches. That run pushed the score to 6-3, giving Blount a comfortable margin as he worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save of the season.
Tennessee hits the road this weekend as it travels to the Palmetto State for a weekend series against No. 10 South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. The Vols and Gamecocks will open with a 7 p.m. contest on Friday before playing at 8 p.m. on Saturday in front of a national audience on ESPNU. The series finale is set for a 1:30 p.m. start on Sunday.
"I am excited to get there and I am excited to see (Carolina Stadium)," Serrano said. "That is what I hope our stadium and atmosphere is one day. It is growing. I see our fans continuing to come out. It is too bad that the rain is sending some people away, but I appreciate what our fans are doing behind us. I am excited to go into a hostile environment and I think our players are excited about it too."