April 17, 2012
Carter became the first Vol with a four-hit effort this season, driving in two runs and scoring another on three singles and a double.
Freshman Richard Carter now has six hits and five RBIs in his last seven at-bats.
Of UT's 11 hits on Tuesday, seven came off the bats of true freshman (4-Carter, 2-Maddox, 1-Wormsley).
Junior Nick Blount recorded his 10th save, making him one of just three pitchers in UT history with double-digit saves in a single season (Sean Watson and Todd Helton).
"I said this to the team the other day, but for what we want, we can't win enough," Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano said. "I have high expectations and we can't win enough, so I get frustrated sometimes, but when I look at all the one-run games and the close games we have been in, Nick Blount has saved the last 10 wins we have had. That means every game has been a close game, which means we are doing something right when the game is on the line and I am proud of our guys for that."
The four-hit effort by Carter was the first by a Vol this season and gives him six hits and five RBIs over his last seven at-bats. The Brentwood, Tenn., native had three singles, a double and scored a run in Tuesday's win.
Junior Nick Blount recorded his 10th save in 10 opportunities this season, coming on for the final four outs against ETSU. He is now just one of three pitchers in Tennessee history to have double-digit saves in a single season, joining Sean Watson (2006) and Todd Helton (1994, 1995). With 11 career saves, he moves into a tie with Jeff Lockwood (2007-09) for third all-time at Rocky Top.
Blount's save wasn't an easy one as he entered the game with a runner on third and the Big Orange leading just 4-2. Although he was able to jam ETSU's Dylan Pratt with a first-pitch fastball, it dropped just out of the reach of an outstretched Zach Osborne for an RBI single to cut the UT lead to just one.
After walking the next batter on five pitches, Chris Riopedre hit a groundball up the middle that appeared destined to tie the game. A diving stop by Will Maddox kept the ball in the infield, however, limiting Riopedre to a single that loaded the bases. Blount was then able to buckle down and get Knoxville native Jordan Sanford to hit a weak groundball back to the mound to keep the Tennessee lead intact.
Blount closed out the contest with a perfect ninth inning, striking out the last two batters of the game.
In addition to Carter's effort at the plate, Maddox also had a pair of hits and an RBI while Osborne drove in two runs of his own.
"When you look at Richard Carter with four hits, Will Maddox with two hits and Parker Wormsley with a hit off the bench, that is seven of our 11 hits from freshmen," Serrano said. "That doesn't get overshadowed by me. True freshman that come in and I am very proud of those guys. Those guys aren't freshman anymore. They are playing like sophomores and juniors. We need more guys to continue to step up like that, not just the young guys, but the older guys to continue to step up and climb to where we want to go."
Junior Drew Steckenrider earned the win, improving to 4-2 on the year after striking out four of the five batters he faced in 1.2 innings of relief. Sophomore Nick Williams gave the Vols a solid start, fanning five and yielding just one run on one hit in three frames of work.
"Steck was great, he was really good tonight," Serrano said. "I went to him a little earlier than I wanted to. I was kind of playing the rain card, because I didn't know if we were going to get nine innings in so I went to him an inning earlier than I wanted to, but it ended up working out well."
ETSU actually got on the board first in the contest when Clinton Freeman finished off a 12-pitch at-bat against Williams with an RBI single in the top of the first inning.
The Orange and White got the run back in the second though when Osborne laced a two-out double to left-center to bring in a run after Carter and Chris Pierce opened the frame with back-to-back singles.
Tennessee extended its lead with three runs in the sixth and another in the seventh. Davis Morgan got the sixth inning started with a double that hugged the left-field line before coming home on a single up the middle by Carter two batters later. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases for Osborne who drove in his second run of the game with a sac fly to right. Maddox tacked on another tally with a RBI single just seconds later.
In the seventh, Parker Wormsley's hustle paid off as he legged out a one-out double on a bloop to left before scoring on Carter's fourth hit of the contest, a single to left.
ETSU made it a ball game in the eighth, scoring three runs, all with two outs, to cut the Tennessee lead to just one at 5-4 before Blount came on for the save. NCAA home run leader Matthew Scruggs brought the first two runs home with a triple high off the wall in right-center, prompting Serrano to bring in Blount for his first four-out save of the season.
Tennessee will hit the road this weekend as it travels to Starkville, Miss., for a three-game set against Mississippi State. The series will run Thursday through Saturday with the opener tabbed as the ESPNU Thursday Night SEC Game of the Week. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m. ET for the first two games and 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.