April 8, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee fell behind early and tried to play catch-up all game against Western Carolina on Wednesday. Unfortunately, five run innings by the Catamounts in the first and third frames were just too much to overcome as the Volunteers dropped a slugfest, 14-9, at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
"We just didn't pitch well," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "We gave up 10 runs in the first three innings and just got too far behind. We fought back a couple of times to make it close, but you can't give up 14 runs and expect to win. I thought Dylan (Hochevar) and Hunter (Hunter) were a bright spot today. They both pitched really well, kept us in the game and gave us a chance."
Juniors Josh Liles and Blake Forsythe paced the way offensively for the Big Orange. Liles finished the contest 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Forsythe collected a pair of hits and tied his season high with four RBIs on the night. Fellow classmates P.J. Polk and Cody Hawn added home runs in the loss, their seventh and fifth of the season, respectively.
For Polk, his longball in the eighth inning extended his hitting streak to a career-best tying 11 games. It was his sixth home run since the streak started, during which he is hitting .375 with 17 RBIs, 15 runs and five stolen bases in as many attempts. He snagged a base on Wednesday as well to increase his season total to a team-leading 15.
On the mound, senior starter Aaron Tullo suffered his first loss of the season as he was unable to get out of the first inning, getting just two outs while allowing four runs on four hits. After WCU's five run third inning, the Tennessee bullpen settled down a bit with sophomore Dylan Hochevar and freshmen Nick Blount and Hunter Daniel combining to allow just two runs in five innings of work.
Hochevar retired seven of the first eight batters he faced before finishing with one run on two hits in 1.2 innings. The Wray, Colo., native also struck out one and walked one. Blount came on in relief with one out in the sixth, immediately inducing a double play. He finished with one earned run on two hits in 1.2 innings, while striking out one as well. Daniel later tossed a scoreless frame in the eighth, working around a leadoff walk to retire the next three batters.
Western Carolina wasted little time putting runs on the scoreboard, pushing five across in the top of the first, five of which came with two outs. In all, the Catamounts had five hits, including a triple and a pair of doubles, and took advantage of a balk and a wild pitch before UT was finally able to get out of the inning.
Despite the early deficit, Tennessee was not going to go away quietly, answering with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the frame. After a popout to start the stanza, junior Khayyan Norfork extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single to right. WCU starter Taylor Sandefur got the next batter swinging, but back-to-back doubles by Liles and Forsythe put two runs on the board before an RBI single by junior Matt Duffy brought home a third.
Following a scoreless second, the Catamounts tacked on five more tallies in the third to take a commanding 10-3 lead behind the strength of home runs off the bats of Tyler Kirkpatrick and Ross Heffley. Once again though, the Big Orange had an answer, getting one of the runs back in the bottom half of the frame on a solo shot by Hawn that easily cleared the scoreboard in right-center.
Just two innings later, UT cut its deficit to three at 10-7 with a trio of runs in the bottom of the fifth. This time, Hawn led off the inning with a walk and Liles followed with a single through the left side of the infield to put runners on first and second for Forsythe. The Memphis native then proceeded to poke an 0-2 pitch down the line to the corner in right for a bases-clearing triple, his second in three games. Following a walk to Duffy and a strikeout, sophomore Matt Ramsey plated Forsythe with an RBI groundout to second.
The two squads traded runs in the sixth to bring the tally on the scoreboard to 11-8 in favor of Western Carolina. The Catamounts' run came on a solo home run by Ollie Goulder, while UT's was the product of an error, a stolen base by Polk and a single by Liles.
WCU tacked on another insurance run in the seventh and two more in the ninth to bring its final run total to 14 on the night. The Orange and White was only able to manage a single tally over the final three innings on the solo shot by Polk as it finished with nine.
The loss drops Tennessee back to .500 on the season at 15-15, while Western Carolina improves to 19-8-1. The Big Orange will look to return to the win column this weekend when it hosts a three-game set against No. 8 Florida, beginning with a 7 p.m. showdown on Friday, April 9. UT and the Gators will then square off at 4 p.m. the following day on Sun Sports before closing out the series at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday with a contest set to be televised on CSS.
For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.