UT senior Steve Crnkovich
Oct. 25, 2009
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Paced by a pair of home runs from junior outfielder Josh Liles, the White team held off a late rally by the Orange squad to pick up its first win in the University of Tennessee's Orange and White World Series, 37.93 to 36.62, as determined by the team's production scoring method, on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Lindsey-Nelson Stadium.
"Both teams played really well and fought hard today," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "It came down to the last few pitches and the White team was able to close it out. I thought we played some good defense and did a great job offensively when we were ahead in the count. We are going to be a team that can hurt you if we are able to work counts in our favor. Obviously, Josh Liles had a huge day and both Chris Fritts and Matt Ramsey continue to swing the bats well. Although I thought we pitched well overall, we need to do a better job when we get behind in counts. When our pitchers controlled the count though, I thought they looked really strong."
Liles finished 3-for-5 overall, with two home runs and five RBIs to lead infield Coach Bradley LeCroy's White squad to victory in the sixth contest of the Volunteers' fall series. Senior Matt Hamaker also had a solid day at the plate, collecting two hits, including a round-tripper, and a pair of RBIs, while fellow classmate Steve Crnkovich picked up the win for the White squad with four solid innings on the mound. The Downers Grove, Ill., product allowed just two runs on four hits, while striking out three and walking two.
For the Orange team, sophomore Matt Ramsey also posted a 3-for-5 effort, knocking in three runs to match junior Blake Forsythe for the team high. Sophomore Adam Adkins suffered his first loss of the fall to drop his record to 2-1 as he allowed four runs on just three hits in four innings. Redshirt freshman Hunter Daniel twirled a scoreless inning of relief for the Orange, giving up just one hit.
The Orange and White teams were both split into two offensive groups, with players from both sides used in a variety of different defensive lineups. Players were awarded points for positive plays such as a hit, or stolen base and had points taken away for negative plays like a strikeout, missed sign or failed sacrifice bunt. The final score was determined 75 percent by the production of the position players with the other 25 percent coming from the pitching staff.
Holding a 9-6 lead going into the bottom of the eighth and final inning, the White team had to withstand a furious rally by first-year pitching coach Jason Beverlin's squad. With sophomore Will Locante on the mound to close things out, Fritts opened the inning by short-hopping the wall in center for a lead-off double. Forsythe then blasted a home run over "The Porch" in left to move his team within a single run. Fellow classmate Tyler Hannah followed with a walk to put the tying run on board before Locante notched the first out of the inning by striking out Fritts.
Forsythe looked to have given the Orange squad its fifth win of the series with a walk-off home run down the left-field line just moments later, but it hooked foul at the last moment to keep the game going. Although Hannah moved to second on a stolen base and Locante walked Forsythe, he was able to buckle down, getting Hannah to ground into a fielder's choice and Fritts to ground out to third to finish off the game and earn his first save of the fall.
Despite the final outcome, it was the Orange that cracked the scoreboard first, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Freshman Drew Steckenrider kicked off the frame with a double to center and moved to second on a groundout by fellow first-year Vol Cody Stubbs, Ramsey then brought him home with a sacrifice fly to right.
The White team wasted little time getting that run right back, as junior P.J. Polk opened the top of the second with a long home run to left to tie things up. It added two more in the following inning when Liles pounded his first long ball of the afternoon off a 1-0 offering from Adkins. The White squad continued to apply the pressure in the fourth, tacking on another run to go ahead 4-1. After a leadoff walk by Polk, junior Khayyan Norfork advanced him 90 feet with a perfect sacrifice bunt. A pair of wild pitches then brought Polk the rest of the way around the diamond.
In the bottom of the fourth frame, the Orange cut its deficit to two with its second run of the day. Hannah got things going by slicing a double to right-center and Fritts followed with a single through the left side to put runners on the corners. Forsythe would then come through with a sac fly to plate Hannah from third.
It was Hamaker's turn to go deep in the fifth for the White, as he followed a single by sophomore Charley Thurber with a deep blast to left to give his team a commanding 6-2 advantage. The Orange squad was undeterred though, answering back with three scores of its own in the bottom of the frame to keep the within one. With senior Stephen McCray on the mound, Stubbs and Ramsey greeted him with back-to-back singles to open the inning. Although McCray caught Steckenrider looking on a fastball on the outside corner for the first out, a fielding error by junior Cody Hawn allowed Fritts, pinch-running for Stubbs, to race home. A bases-clearing triple by Ramsey followed to make it 6-5.
After a scoreless sixth, the White tallied three more runs in the seventh on Liles second home run of the afternoon. With two runners on, sophomore Dylan Hochevar tried to sneak an 0-1 fastball by him, but Liles turned on it and sent it over the wall in left. The Orange squad refused to give up, however, as it tallied three consecutive hits in the bottom half of the frame to score its sixth run of the day. After sophomore Josh Allman got Stubbs to ground out to second for the first out, Ramsey sliced a double to the left-center gap. Steckenrider put runners on the corners just seconds later with a single through the left side of the infield. Stubbs then laced a single to center to bring Ramsey home and set up the exciting finish in the eighth.
The seventh and final contest of the Orange and White World Series will take place on Friday, Oct. 30. Fans are encouraged to attend and seating is available in the stands down the first-base line. Admission is free.