May 8, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
ATHENS, Ga. - The University of Tennessee baseball team scored 13 runs on 12 hits, including four home runs, and four walks. And that was just in the third inning.
In all, the Volunteers sent 19 batters to the plate in the frame, scoring nine runs before recording the first out. The Big Orange used the half-inning, one of the most productive in school history, to cruise to a series-clinching victory over Georgia, 25-5, on a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon at Foley Field in Athens.
At the end of the day, UT tied the school's single-game record with 28 hits, including 12 of the extra-base variety, accounting for 52 total bases which shattered the previous program record of 47. The Big Orange also set a school record with 55 total at-bats and tallied its most runs against a Southeastern Conference opponent since it defeated Georgia, 28-10, on April 19, 1997.
"Obviously, we swung the bats pretty well today," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "To win three straight SEC series is huge for us. We haven't done that in quite a while and I think it just shows how much we have improved as a team over the last few weeks. I think the turning point in the game today was when Hawn hit the home run. We kind of relaxed, got more aggressive and it just took off from there."
Four different Vols hit home runs, with juniors Blake Forsythe and P.J. Polk both knocking two out of the park in the contest. Polk was 5-for-6 on the day with a career-high six RBIs and tied the UT single-game record with five runs scored. Forsythe, meanwhile, finished 4-for-5 on the day with a career-high tying five RBIs, and fellow classmate Matt Duffy added five hits, two runs and a pair of RBIs of his own.
Also recording multi-hit contests for the Orange and White were Josh Liles (3-for-6, four runs, one RBI), Charley Thurber (2-for-3, one run), Chris Fritts (2-for-4, one RBI, one run), Matt Ramsey (2-for-5, five RBIs, one run) and Zach Osborne (2-for-3, two runs).
In all, 19 different UT players combined to tie or break a total of 29 individual season highs and 25 individual career highs in Saturday's victory.
Trailing 2-0 going into the third, the Tennessee offense simply caught fire. After a leadoff single by Osborne and a walk to Liles, the Vols rattled off seven straight hits. At one point, UT scored six runs on three pitches, getting a two-RBI single by Polk and home runs on back-to-back pitches by Hawn and Forsythe, with Hawn's bringing in three runs. The Big Orange also got a three-run dinger from Ramsey, which marked the end of the consecutive hits streak as Osborne followed with a walk in his second at-bat of the stanza.
Junior Khayyan Norfork then doubled down the line before Liles grounded out to third for the first out of the inning. Osborne scored on the play, however, and Polk continued the home-run barrage, blasting an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right-center. Four of the next five hitters would reach base on a pair of walks, a single and an run-scoring double by Duffy before Osborne finally put an end to the festivities with a fly out to right in his third at-bat of the frame. UT finished with 12 hits in the inning, breaking the previous school record of 11, which it set against Oakland on March 9, 2005. It also tied the program record with 15 at-bats in the frame (1st inn. vs. Chattanooga 4/6/77) and finished one off the record for both home runs (5) and total runs (14) in a single inning.
Prior to the offensive explosion in the third, Tennessee tried to get on the scoreboard first with a two-out rally in the top of the second. After UGA starter Jeff Walters recorded two outs on just two pitches, Thurber worked a full count before singling to left on the eighth pitch of his at-bat. Duffy then followed with a double down the third-base line to put runners on second and third, but Walters got out of the jam with a strikeout.
It would actually be Georgia that scored the first runs of the contest, as it did what UT couldn't and capitalized on a two-out rally of its own in the bottom of the second. Gruver didn't waste any time getting the first two outs of the frame, but a four-pitch walk and a seeing-eye single off the end of the bat through the left side of the infield gave the Bulldogs some life.
UGA catcher Carson Schilling would put the first run on the board with an RBI single to left. Todd Hankins then popped up a bunt, but it fell in no-man's land between first and the mound for a single to load the bases. Gruver would then miss with a 3-2 fastball just outside to Johnathan Taylor to walk in the Bulldog's second run of the day before striking out Peter Verdin to leave the bases loaded.
Georgia's two runs only helped to awaken the Tennessee offense which proceeded to erupt for 13 in the next half-inning.
The Bulldogs would add single tallies in the sixth, seventh and eighth to account for their final run total of five, while the Vols scored one in the fourth, three in the sixth, two in the eighth and sixth in the ninth.
The run in the fourth came on an RBI single by Forsythe. He was also responsible for all three runs in the sixth when he launched his second home run of the contest. In the eighth, the Orange and White tallied two runs on a double by Polk, a pair of errors by the Georgia third baseman and an RBI single by Fritts.
Polk added his second four-bagger of the game in the ninth, bringing in two runs, before back-to-back walks, another fielding error and Duffy's third double of the day put two more tallies on the board. Ramsey then finished off the scoring with a two-RBI single up the middle.
With the victory, Tennessee improved to 26-21 and 10-13 in SEC action. UT is five games over .500 for the first time since April 29, 2008 when it was 25-20 during Raleigh's first season at Rocky Top. The Big Orange has now won three straight series for the first time since the 2005 campaign.
The Vols will go for their first conference sweep of 2010 at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Junior southpaw Bryan Morgado (2-6, 7.12) will get the start for the Big Orange, while senior lefthander Alex McCree (0-1, 6.33) will take the hill for Georgia. The game will be televised live on CSS (Comcast channel 33 in Knoxville) with Matt Stewart and Brian Jordan on the call. For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.