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@Vol_Baseball Report: Situational Success

Oct. 3, 2013


JOHNNY YOUNGBLOOD

Originally from Lexington, Ky., Johnny Youngblood joins the Vols by way of Meridian Community College in Meridian, Miss. A 6-foot-3 outfielder, Youngblood played the past two seasons for the Eagles.

"The first few weeks as a Vol have been an experience of a lifetime," said Youngblood. "I'm blessed to be here. It's been tough, but everybody is real close so it's been a good time."

Rated as the ninth-best junior college prospect in the nation by Baseball America, Youngblood was drafted for the second time in 2012, but chose to finish out his education and continue his baseball playing days at the college level with Serrano and his staff.

"It was just God's plan," said Youngblood. "It's an honor to be drafted; I'm blessed. It was very exciting and nerve racking, but I felt Tennessee would be the best option for me - to come here with Coach Serrano and his staff - and get some more baseball in."

A speedster in the outfield, Youngblood prides himself on giving 110 percent effort, 100 percent of the time, and models his game after a player who does the same.

"I try to go out here and play the game the right way," said Youngblood. "Run out every ball, don't quit on anything - they stress that big here - finish each play and give it 110 percent every day.

"My favorite outfielder is Jacoby Ellsbury. I try to play the game as he does. He plays the game the right way: hard and going all out."

Off the field, the junior has a plan to be around baseball, even if playing the game doesn't work out.

"I study hard and am majoring in turfgrass science & management," said Youngblood. "If baseball doesn't work out I want to run field maintenance like [they do at] Tennessee."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Another beautiful afternoon on Rocky Top allowed the Tennessee baseball team to fit in its fifth scrimmage of fall ball on Thursday, playing six innings of intrasquad action at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The coaching staff continued to sweat the small stuff, forcing the Vols to work out of different situations each half inning. Starting each frame with runners on the corners and one out, head coach Dave Serrano and his staff gave the pitchers one batter to try and work out of the jam.

On the mound on Thursday were sophomore Andrew Lee, junior college transfer Peter Lenstrohm and freshmen Hunter Martin and Kyle Serrano. The four right-handers threw three innings a piece.

All performed well in situational work, but Martin's first-inning performance stood out. Entering the game in the fourth inning, Martin got Christin Stewart to ground into a situational inning ending 4-6-3 double play. After the bases were cleared and the outs reset, Martin went on to retire three of his next four batters faced with ground ball outs.

HOME ON THE HILL

After signing with the Vols primarily as a hard-throwing pitcher out of Morristown West High School in Morristown, Tenn., Lee suffered an arm injury late in his senior season that required Tommy John surgery.

The injury forced him to sit out his freshman campaign on the mound, but Lee appeared in 25 games and started 17 as the Vols designated hitter a season ago.

He's still working the arm back to full strength, but being out on the mound feels right for the 6-foot-5 power arm.

"I wish I could say it felt a little bit better," said Lee. "It's definitely good to be pitching again and it feels great. Being out for so long and being able to get back on the mound is a really good feeling."

Playing for the San Luis Obispo Blues in the California Collegiate League this summer, Lee appeared in 43 games, hitting .240 with six doubles, two triples and 21 RBI. On the mound he compiled a 3.20 ERA and 21 strikeouts over 19.2 innings pitched.

He hopes to build off his solid summer in both areas of the game this fall.

"I'm really looking to improve my command on the mound and just to keep it going batting," said Lee. "I had an alright summer batting so just keep my average up a little bit and then hone in on the strike zone when I'm pitching."

COMING TOGETHER

The Vols welcome 20 newcomers to the program in 2013-14 and Lee believes everything is going according to plan in terms of team chemistry.

"It's going pretty smooth so far," said Lee. "It's definitely a lot smoother than last year. All of our new guys are picking it up pretty quick and our veterans are leading the way."

Having gone through something similar last season, Lee knows the importance of team chemistry and has quickly taken in some of the youngsters.

"We've really taken it in stride," said Lee. "Last year, we all meshed together really well and became friends really quickly. I feel like the same thing is happening this year. We've taken in the new guys just like they've been here for three years."

FREE YOUTH CLINIC

The Tennessee baseball team will host a free youth clinic from 9:30-10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.

All children from age six through the eighth grade are invited to attend the free clinic, where the current Vol baseball team will instruct them in all phases of the game including throwing, hitting, pitching, defense and base running.

Check-in is scheduled for 9 a.m. There will be no pre-registration, only walk-ups. Participants should arrive with all necessary baseball equipment, including cleats, glove, baseball pants and hat.

Following the clinic, the Vols will hold a practice and intrasquad scrimmage at 12:30 p.m. Prior to the clinic on Friday, Oct. 25, the Orange and White will host an exhibition against Belmont at 4 p.m. ET. All practices and scrimmages are free and open to the public.

BACK IN ACTION

The Vols return to the diamond on Friday at 2:30 p.m., with an eight-inning scrimmage scheduled for a 4 p.m. ET first pitch. A total of nine Vols will hit the mound on Friday.

After taking a break on Saturday for the football game at Neyland Stadium, Tennessee closes out the week on Sunday with an 11 a.m. practice. A scrimmage is slated for 12:45 p.m.

 

 

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