May 11, 2011
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Tennessee baseball team tied its season high with three home runs, but it wasn't enough after Middle Tennessee State jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first three innings en route to a 12-3 triumph that split the mid-week home-and-home series on a muggy Wednesday night at Reese Smith, Jr. Field in Murfreesboro.
"Obviously, we didn't get off to a good start, but the kids didn't quit," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "They battled at the plate all night, played pretty good defense and the bullpen was good. We had a couple of freshman pitchers struggle in the first couple of innings and got behind quick. It's hard to come back from that, but I thought we fought all night and even had some good at-bats in the ninth.
"It was good to see us hit a few out of the park today. (Matt) Duffy and I talked about making some small mechanical adjustments with his swing earlier this week and he has started swinging it better the last few days. It's hard to get in a rhythm sometimes when you don't play mid-week games, so hopefully this will help him out this weekend at LSU. (Khayyan) has hit the ball hard so many times lately with nothing to show for it, so it was good to see him out one out too."
The Volunteers got solo home runs from seniors Matt Duffy and Khayyan Norfork and freshman Ethan Bennett to account for their three runs on the evening. Freshman Carter Watson (5-3) suffered the loss for UT, allowing four runs, two earned, in the second start of his collegiate career. Daniel Palo (2-7) picked up the win for the Blue Raiders, tossing seven innings of two-run ball.
Out of the bullpen, freshman Dalton Saberhagen posted three solid innings, while sophomores Nick Blount, Hunter Daniel and Drew Saberhagen combined to allow just one hit over the game's final three frames.
MTSU wasted little time jumping on the Vols after suffering a 5-4 loss in Knoxville last night. The Blue Raiders raced out to an 11-0 lead after scoring four times in the first, six in the second and another in the third.
Tennessee finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when Duffy launched 1-0 fastball over the wall in left-center for his sixth home run of the season. That gave him the team lead, but it would only be for a few minutes as Bennett joined him with six in the top of the sixth, pulling a shot down the left-field line that put the score at 12-2. Norfork finished off the scoring in the eighth with his fourth longball of the year, an opposite-field blast to right off of MTSU reliever Joey McClung.
The Volunteers will travel straight from Murfreesboro to Baton Rouge, La., where they will square off in a three-game set against LSU at Alex Box Stadium this weekend. The two teams will kick off the series at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. Game two will be televised on CSS at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday before the finale at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.