April 27, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Junior Blake Forsythe crushed his second grand slam of the season and finished with a career-high tying five RBIs as the University of Tennessee baseball team cruised to a 13-5 triumph over Belmont on Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.
"It's always good to get a win, especially tonight because we needed to keep our momentum going into the weekend," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "I thought all of our pitchers threw well tonight. (Steven) Gruver gave us a solid start and (Will) Locante and (Alan) Walden were the best I've seen them all year. I'm happy with where our pitching is at right now and it helps that we've been scoring some runs and doing some good things at the plate. Obviously, Blake was huge for us today, it seemed like (Josh) Liles was on base all night and I was glad to see Khayyan (Norfork) stay patient and walk three times.
"We changed (the bullpen) up a little bit this weekend, extended (Matt) Ramsey on Sunday and extended Locante today. Walden was the best player in the state of Tennessee last year but was hurt and didn't pitch at all. He didn't pitch at all in the fall, either, so he's getting better every single week. We need that, and it was a good sign to see him do what he did today. He's got a great arm and he's got great stuff, he's just six months behind everybody. We need the bullpen to do well. When our bullpen pitches well, we win. The key for us is always our bullpen, for whatever reason. When we pitch good out of the pen, we do well."
In addition to his grand slam, Forsythe also had a run-scoring double to finish the game 2-for-3 with five RBIs, tying his career-high which set last year against Ohio on May 7, 2009. Fellow classmates Josh Liles and Khayyan Norfork also had strong days at the dish, scoring three runs apiece. Liles was 3-for-3 in the contest, while Norfork had one hit and walked a personal-best three times. Sophomore Zach Osborne also had two hits and three runs in the UT victory, including his fifth home run of the season.
Sophomore Steven Gruver turned in a solid start, going five innings and allowing three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out two to earn his second victory of the season. Fellow second-year Vol Will Locante surrendered just a single hit in two scoreless frames, while freshman Alan Walden retired all three batters he faced in a perfect inning of work. Redshirt junior D.J. Leffler closed out the contest, allowing two unearned runs on one hit and a walk in the ninth.
Tennessee jumped on Belmont early and never looked back. Following a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the first by Gruver, four of the first five UT batters reached base in the bottom of the frame, kicked off by a leadoff walk by Norfork. Liles then singled through the left side to put runners on the corners for junior Cody Hawn who recorded an RBI groundout to give the Orange and White a quick lead. A fielding error on a groundball to first base by sophomore Charley Thurber then allowed Liles to race around from first to make it 2-0.
The Vols continued to add to their lead in the bottom of the second when Osborne jumped on the first pitch of the inning and pulled it down the line in left. It stayed true just long enough and bounced off the top of the foul pole to give the Louisville, Ky., native his fifth home run of the season and first since March 17.
Although Belmont battled back to make it 3-2 with a two-run home run by Packy Elkins in the top of the fourth, the Big Orange responded immediately, answering both runs in its half of the inning. Once again, Osborne led off the stanza, but he was only able to get one base this time as Bruin starter Garrett Fanchier plunked him in the shoulder. Norfork and Liles followed with back-to-back walks and Thurber brought in his second run of the day just two batters later with a run-scoring groundout to shortstop. Fanchier then hit Forsythe to load the bases yet again before Belmont reliever Ross Beach walked UT freshman Cody Stubbs on five pitches to bring home another run and give the Vols a 5-2 advantage.
Belmont remained within striking distance, however, moving within two runs on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the top of the fifth by Dylan Craig. At that point though, Tennessee simply took over, scoring eight unanswered runs over the next three innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Liles got things started by laying off a 3-2 pitch that missed just inside to give the Vols a leadoff runner. After a fly out by Hawn, Thurber crushed a first-pitch fastball off the top of the wall in left-center for an RBI triple. Forsythe then followed suit with a blast off the top of the wall as well, this time in straightaway center, which went for a run-scoring double as Thurber trotted home from third on the play. Just seconds later, Stubbs punched a 1-2 pitch the other way for a single to left, plating Forsythe in the process.
The Big Orange kept its foot on the gas in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with a pair of walks sandwiched around a single by Liles, before a pop out put the first out on the board. Forsythe then proceeded to blast a 2-1 pitch off the Coca-Cola sign on the scoreboard in right-center for his second grand slam of the season. The longball also increased his season total to nine, giving him sole possession of first place on the team in that category.
UT continued to add to its lead in the bottom of the eighth, as pinch-hitter Adam King ripped a one-out single up the middle to bring Osborne in from second and give the Orange and White a commanding 13-3 lead going into the final frame of the day.
An error, a walk, a single and two RBI groundouts put two more runs on the board for Belmont, but it was way too little, too late as Leffler got Jared Breen to ground out to Cody Grisham at third to end the game.
The Big Orange will next be in action this weekend when it hosts border-rival Kentucky for a three-game series. The Vols will take on the Wildcats at 5 p.m. on Friday, 4 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. The series opener will be televised on ESPNU, while SportSouth will carry the final two contests. For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.