Sept. 25, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The problem with intra-squad scrimmages is that when one part of the team has success, it often comes at the expense of another.
That is exactly what the Tennessee baseball team saw during its second scrimmage of fall practice on Tuesday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
While the pitching and defense weren't quite as sharp as the UT coaching staff would have liked, they were pleased with the performance on the offensive side of the ball.
"Offensively, I think the pitching and defense created some offense for us but we capitalized on those mistakes and free passes and we got some things done," associate head coach Greg Bergeron said. "The baserunning was pretty aggressive, first-and-third was good, we read some balls in the dirt and we got key hits when they gave us the opportunity to do that."
The Vols began the process of installing Bergeron's "pressure" offense on Monday and the results came quickly, although it remains a work in progress.
"[The installation] has been pretty good," Bergeron said. "Yesterday, I thought we threw a lot at them and they grasped it pretty quick. Today we were able to do some things and they are picking up on it but it's still new. A lot of these guys have probably never been asked to bunt before, have never been asked to hit-and-run before, so it's a new process, but they are picking up on it pretty good."
As is always the case when beginning to put a system in place, the Big Orange is learning on the go.
"It's like information overload and it can become so much information that you become robotic," Bergeron said. "What we try to do is tell these guys that they are here for a reason. You are good players, so let your baseball instincts take over, but kind of become a sponge and take in all that information. When you get back home at night, try to digest it, but don't analyze it while you are on the field. Just be a baseball player and then when you get off the field, figure it out from there.
Tennessee's next scrimmage is set for 5 p.m. on Thursday. All fall practices are free and open to the public.
For more information about Tennessee baseball and a complete weekly practice schedule, visit UTSports.com/Baseball, follow @Vol_Baseball on Twitter or like the Vols on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/VolBaseball.
SUCCESS WITH SLOWING IT DOWNDave Serrano is a firm believer that the changeup is the most effective pitch in baseball. In order to help his pitchers develop the off-speed offering, he only allows them to throw fastballs and changeups during fall practice.
If any of the 11 new pitchers on this year's roster are looking for proof that the strategy works, they need to look no further than staff ace Zack Godley.
After adding a changeup to his repertoire last fall, the 6-3 senior established himself as the team's top pitcher, going 4-2 with a squad-best 3.50 ERA in 12 appearances last year, including seven Friday night starts.
Godley bought in to the pitch early and it paid off.
"Coming in last fall not having a changeup, getting the opportunity to work on it was great," Godley said. "Now this fall, you can tell everyone is getting a much better feel for their changeup. With me, I am just getting more of a feel for it and I'm excited to see what it does going later into the fall and this season."
This summer, Godley had the opportunity to continue working with Serrano and put his changeup on display with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in North Carolina where he pitched in four games, striking out eight in six innings of work. He picked up the win in his debut with the Red, White and Blue and posted a 1.50 ERA.
He is quick to attribute his success over the last year to the pitch Serrano teaches so well.
"The changup is the best pitch in baseball, hands down," Godley said. "If you can master that, locate your fastball and then come in and take a little something off it is huge. Hitters are off-balance off the time. Coach Serrano has helped me a lot with developing mine and I used it a lot last year. I just have to stay committed to it."