April 24, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee baseball held No. 15 Vanderbilt off the scoreboard in six of the nine innings it came to the plate on Friday night. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, the Commodores struck for 10 runs in the other three frames, including three in the top of the first and six in the fifth, to claim a 10-1 victory in the series opener at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.
"Right now, what's killing us is the big inning," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "It has killed us in our last four SEC games and that's what got us tonight, no doubt about it. We come back with (Stephen) McCray tomorrow and we still have a chance to win the series. This is just one game. That's the beauty of baseball. We don't need to panic about it. I'm certainly disappointed but we have a good chance to come back and win tomorrow."
The lone UT run of the day came on a solo home run by freshman Cody Stubbs on the first pitch of the bottom of the third as he turned on a fastball and roped it over the wall in right. The Big Orange would manage just two more hits all game off of Vandy starter Sonny Gray who tossed seven innings, striking out 10, before he was ejected from the game after hitting Tennessee sophomore Zach Osborne to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Because both teams were warned previously in the contest, VU Head Coach Tim Corbin was automatically ejected as well.
Other than Stubbs' home run, his third of the season, only juniors P.J. Polk and Matt Duffy were able to record hits as both players collected singles. UT junior Bryan Morgado fell to 2-5 on the season after allowing nine runs, all earned, on 10 hits in just 4.2 innings. The Miami, Fla., native did manage to strikeout four Commodores, but walked one and hit three others.
Sophomore Dylan Hochevar and junior Rob Catapano both provided strong efforts out of the bullpen on Friday, combining to allow just one run over the final 4.1 innings. Hochevar tossed 2.1 frames, giving up a run on four hits and striking out four, while Catapano was touched for just one hit, walked two and struck out one in two scoreless stanzas.
Vanderbilt wasted little time getting the scoring started, tallying three runs in the opening frame. After Morgado kicked off the contest by getting the first batter to ground out on his initial offering, a pair of hit batters, sandwiched around an infield single, loaded the bases for Aaron Westlake who brought home a pair of runs with a single to left-center. Yet another base-knock loaded the bases once again and Connor Harrell made it a three-run inning for VU with a single to the hole at short. Morgado was able to mitigate the damage a little bit, however, as he induced a slow roller to short that Osborne was able to use to turn an inning-ending double play.
After going quietly in the first two innings, the Vols finally got on the board in the bottom of the third when Stubbs crushed a first-pitch fastball from Gray into the parking lot behind the right-field wall at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. That would be all they could get though, as Gray got Osborne to ground out to third before striking out three consecutive batters, one of which reached base on a passed ball.
Both teams got a runner on base in the fourth but couldn't take advantage and the score remained 3-1 in favor of Vanderbilt heading to the fifth. It wouldn't stay close for long, however, as the Commodores scored six runs, five of which came with two outs on the board. The Vols were actually one strike away from getting out of the inning with just one runner crossing the plate on two different occasions, but a two-strike single by Harrell, a first-pitch single by Joe Loftus and a double down the line by Bryan Johns on a 3-2 pitch plated four more and chased Morgado from the game.
With Hochevar now on the mound, Vanderbilt was able to put another tally on the board with a single by Anthony Gomez. After hitting the next batter, the right-hander from Wray, Colo., was finally able to put an end to the frame when he got Jason Esposito swinging. The Commodores tacked on an insurance run in the seventh, using a single, two UT errors and a pair of wild pitches to push the run across.
Tennessee will look to return to the win column when it takes to the diamond against Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The Big Orange and the Commodores will then close out the series with a 2 p.m. showdown on Sunday. For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.