KNOXVILLE,TN. Tennessee pitcher Nick Hernandez was outstanding through 7 1/3 innings, and third baseman Cody Brown enjoyed a 3-for-4 day at the plate Saturday, but it wasn?t enough to offset one big inning by Morehead State as the UT baseball team suffered a 4-1 loss to the Eagles at Robert M. Lindsay Field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The series will be decided Sunday starting at 1 p.m.
The Eagles (1-1) got to the Volunteers bullpen Saturday and scored four runs on three hits in the eighth inning. Entering that frame, Hernandez had allowed just three hits through seven shutout innings. The sophomore left-hander from Hialeah, Fla., was lifted after issuing a one-out walk his only walk of the day in the top of the eighth. He finished with four strikeouts and one run allowed and was charged with a no-decision. His 7 1/3 innings pitched marked a career-high.
It's disappointing because of the great pitching performance, UT head coach Todd Raleigh said. There's a lot of different ways to lose games, but when you pitch like that at homeyou've got to think you're going to win.
The Volunteers (1-1) out-hit the Eagles 9-7. In addition to Brown?s three-hit effort, seniors Andy Simunic and Daniel Beasley each recorded two hits. In fact, eight of UT's nine hits came off the bats of upperclassmen.
The teams sped through a pair of scoreless innings Saturday before Tennessee took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Beasley reached on a one-out single before later scoring on a fielding error by Eagles third baseman Andrew Wertz.
Morehead State put the potential game-tying run on first base when pinch hitter Justin Johnson drew a one-out walk in the top of the eighth inning. Hernandez then gave way to right-hander Aaron Everett, who took the hill to face pinch hitter Travis Redmon. Everett wasted little time getting Redmon to strike out looking, but the next batter reached on a fielder's choice.
Eagles second baseman Drew Lee then dug in with runners on first and second and two outs. Lee snuck an RBI basehit down the left-field line, tying the game at 1-1. And MSU left fielder Eric Allen followed with a two-run double that gave the Eagles their first lead of the series, 3-1.
Michael Bottoms capped the Eagles rally with an RBI basehit later in the eighth that brought the final score to 4-1. Bottoms started the game as Morehead State's designated hitter, but he came in to pitch the seventh and eighth innings and log his first win of the young season. Quentin Morgan worked a one-hit final frame for the Eagles to pick up the save.
The Vols put two men in scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and then managed to place runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth. The big hit Tennessee needed, however, never materialized. On the day, UT left 11 runners on base compared to just four for Morehead State.
We didn't play a bad game, but we didn?t do anything to ?make it happen, Raleigh said. ?I honestly felt like we played not to lose instead of (playing) to win.
Everett took the loss to fall to 0-1 after surrendering three runs on three hits in 2/3 inning. Danny Wiltz pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Vols.
Catcher Blake Forsythe?a true freshman from Memphis, Tenn. made his Tennessee debut Saturday, starting behind the plate.
Redshirt freshman left-hander Bryan Morgado is expected to take the mound Sunday for his much-anticipated Big Orange debut. Morehead State's starting pitcher will be right-handed freshman Trey Smith.