LEXINGTON, Ky. (UT Release) – Senior Zack Godley finished off Tennessee's series win over No. 13 Kentucky with an exclamation mark, firing his second complete-game shutout of the year as the Vols took the series finale from the Wildcats, 5-0, on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
“Great effort by Zack Godley and great effort by our team,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “I told them after the game that I could not be more proud of them. I promised them that whether we won or lost that game I was proud of them. We’ll never [completely] figure it out, but we are starting to figure it out. I’m seeing a young team start to become a team, pull for all the right things and appreciate all the right things.
“We are still going to make our mistakes, everybody does, but, boy, as a head coach and a coaching staff we are really proud of what we accomplished. This is a baby step in the direction that I want this place to go.”
Godley struck out eight, walked two, scattered six hits and stranded nine UK baserunners en route to improving to 3-4 on the year. The Bamberg, S.C., native retired the final eight Wildcats he faced, punching out three of them. His first shutout came at home against Missouri on March 22.
“That’s why we call him ‘The Bull,’” Serrano said. “He is a bull. He went 130 pitches and he might have been better in the seventh, eighth and ninth than he was in the first, second and third. What he figured out was to just stay within himself, not try to overthrow, just flip that curveball in there and throw strike one. It was a really simple plan once we got the lead and he stuck to the plan. I could not be more proud of him and the whole team.”
Helping out on the offensive side of things were Christin Stewart and Pierce Bily who each finished with a pair of hits and two RBIs. Ethan Bennett added a 2-for-4 effort, including one of four doubles the Vols pounded out off of Kentucky starter Corey Littrell (4-2) who yielded all five Tennessee runs in 7.1 innings of work.
The series win is UT’s second in SEC play this year and first on the road since sweeping a doubleheader at Alabama on April 16, 2011. With Sunday’s triumph, the Vols improve to 16-18 overall and 5-10 in league play. The 13th-ranked Wildcats drop to 24-11 on the season and 7-8 in SEC games.
After five scoreless innings to start the game, Tennessee was the first to crack the scoreboard, putting up a three-spot in the top of the sixth. Maddox took a pitch off the forearm to start the frame. While he would have to be removed from the game later on because of that pitch, he would stay in the game at the time and promptly moved to second on a balk.
A.J. Simcox followed with a perfect bunt down the third-base line that would go for an infield single and put runners on the corners for Stewart who brought them both home just three pitches later with an opposite-field double to left-center.
Tennessee added two important insurance runs in the top of the eighth to account for the game’s final score. After a leadoff walk by Stewart, Bily crushed a 1-2 offering to left-center for an RBI double, scoring Stewart all the way from first. Bily then swiped third and Vincent Jackson drew a free pass to put runners on the corners with nobody out.
Some heads-up baserunning allowed UT to load the bases as Taylor Smart laid down an attempt at a safety squeeze. It was right back to the pitcher who flipped to the plate, but Bily retreated to third and everyone was safe. Zach Luther followed with a sacrifice fly to center to give the Big Orange a five-run advantage.
Godley, who seemed to get stronger as the game went on, then retired the Wildcats in order in the final two innings to seal the win and series victory.
Tennessee will next be in action on Tuesday when it revives the Hokie-Smokey Classic against Virginia Tech at Pioneer Park in Greeneville, Tenn.