MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (release) -- Tennessee jumped out to a three-run lead early on Tuesday evening but 10 unanswered runs by MTSU proved too much to overcome as the Volunteers dropped an 11-5 decision to the Blue Raiders at Reese Smith Jr. Field in Murfreesboro.
“With a 4-1 lead we fell behind in the count to the first two hitters in the third inning and they made us pay for it,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “They put some runners on and the next thing you know they put a two on the board and started feeling some momentum. They pitched off their momentum and we just kind of shut it down offensively. When they brought in some pitchers that were mixing it up and throwing strikes we didn’t get a hit after the third inning. You are going to struggle when that is the case and we just didn’t execute pitches.
“We have to regroup. We have two days of practice before we go down to Gainesville to play [Florida]. Like I said to the team before the game, our goal is to get to Hoover and no one is going to give it to us. We are going to have to do something to get there. But we have a lot of work to do. We have to have more mentality about what we are doing in everything and clean up our game.”
All eight of UT’s hits came off of MTSU starting pitcher Paul Mittura before five Blue Raider relievers held the Vols hitless over the game’s final seven innings.
Will Maddox and Christin Stewart each posted two-hit performances for the Big Orange while Ethan Bennett extended his hitting streak to five games with his sixth double of the year.
The Vols wasted little time racing out to a quick 4-1 lead as they knocked Mittura around to the tune of four runs on eight hits in just 2.0-plus innings of work. The Big Orange came out of the gates swinging, recording four hits in the game’s opening stanza, but it would only manage one run as three UT runners were thrown out on the bases. Pierce Bily got the scoring started with a two-out RBI single to center.
Although a triple and a run-scoring groundout by MTSU tied the game in the home half of the first, Tennessee jumped right back out in front thanks to an RBI groundout of its own by Jeff Moberg in the second. Stewart and Vincent Jackson then put two more runs on the board in the top of the third with an RBI single and sacrifice fly, respectively.
It would be all Blue Raiders after that though as their offense exploded for 10 unanswered runs, including five in the fourth inning alone. At the same time, four MTSU relievers combined to hold Tennessee off of the scoreboard for the next 5.1 innings until three consecutive walks and a run-scoring groundout by Bennett brought in the game’s final run in the top of the eighth.
Tennessee will return to the diamond this weekend when it travels to Gainesville, Fla., for a three-game set against Florida, April 26-28.
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