KNOXVILLE , TN. Tennessee true freshman Josh Liles set a school record with four doubles Wednesday as the Volunteers baseball team posted its highest run total of the season while toppling 18th-ranked Charlotte 12-5 at Robert M. Lindsay Field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Tennessee improved to 17-10 while also enjoying its largest margin of victory this season. For the 49ers, the loss was just their fourth of the year, as the projected (and defending) Atlantic 10 Conference champions now stand at 21-4.
Liles went 4-for-5 at the plate with three RBI and two runs during his historic night. Prior to his four-double outburst, 13 Vols had collected three two-baggers in a single game. Chase Headley (2004-05) was the last Vol to do so, recording the trio against Tennessee Temple on April 26, 2005.
I had no idea (that was a record), Liles said after the game. It's pretty exciting. I wasn?t really thinking about getting two or three. I was just doing what coach told me to do and take two. Some of them looked like singles to me, but when I got to first, (assistant coach Bradley) LeCroy kept sending me to second.
(Head coach Todd) Raleigh's been working with me on my stance, my swing and my mindset. I've been working on it a lot lately, and it's good to see some results.
Liles has 11 hits in UT's last five games and has raised his season average .90 points during that span.
Tennessee junior Aaron Everett made his SEC-leading 17th pitching appearance of the season and improved to 3-2 by allowing a single unearned run on one hit with four strikeouts through 2 1/3 innings of relief action.
Sophomore catcher Yan Gomes has been one of Tennessee's top hitters recently, and the Miami, Fla., native jumpstarted the Vols offense Wednesday with an RBI single in the bottom of the first. Gomes? two-out basehit plated second baseman Andy Simunic, who had previously reached on one of UT's three hits in the opening frame.
Charlotte scored its first run with two outs in the top of the second, when an infield throwing error enabled 49ers catcher Chris Taylor to scamper home from second base.
The Vols produced some more two-out offense in the bottom of the third, with sophomore first baseman Jeff Lockwood belting a two-run homer to give Tennessee a 3-1 lead. It was Lockwood's third home run of the season and the seventh of his career.
Pinch hitter Alan Wright and shortstop Cody Grisham keyed a fourth-inning rally for the Vols with a hit-by-pitch and a double, respectively. Wright then scored from third on a passed ball by Taylor, and Grisham came home on an RBI sacrifice fly by Simunic to put the Big Orange up by four, 5-1.
Grisham finished with a career-high two hits?both of which were doubles.
Charlotte used consecutive RBI basehits from Shayne Moody and Brad McElroy to pull to within two runs in the top of the fifth.
But the Vols responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame to temporarily restore their four-run advantage. Liles roped an RBI double?his second two-bagger of the game and later scored on a two-base throwing error by 49ers reliever Kelly McLain.
The 49ers took advantage of two Tennessee infield errors to post an unearned run in the top of the sixth. The teams combined for eight errors Wednesday, with each club committing four.
That wasn't the prettiest college baseball game I?ve ever seen, Raleigh said. They're a good club, though, even though they didn't play that well tonight. We?re fortunate to come out on top.
Everett picked off McElroy at second base in the top of the seventh, prompting a spirited discussion between 49ers head coach Loren Hibbs and second-base umpire Chris Jenkins. Hibbs was ejected after sharing his feelings.
Liles delivered his third double of the game in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Lockwood to push the score to 8-4. And freshman P.J. Polk entered the game and produced a pinch-hit, two-run single later in the seventh as the Vols tallied additional insurance runs to build a comfortable 11-4 lead.
Charlotte first baseman Alex Burt pushed his team?s final total to five runs with an RBI double in the eighth.
Liles' record-setting fourth double came against 49ers right-handed freshman Andrew Smith with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Lockwood scored UT's final run on the play after reaching on his third hit of the night.
Tennessee junior Ty Relle Harris made his fourth start of the season and working 4 2/3 innings in which he allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Everett was the first arm out of the UT bullpen, followed by sophomore Steve Crnkovich and junior Danny Wiltz each of whom worked one full inning.
The Vols now lead their all-time series with Charlotte 3-1, dating to 1993.
This is a good win against a team that?s probably going to make the NCAA tournament, Raleigh added. Any time you can get one of those, it helps.
Liles' four extra-base hits tied a school record, as he joined Jordan Czarniecki (two double and two homers in a game against Arkansas in 2002) and Stuart Driscoll (one double and three triples against Carson-Newman in 1971) as the only Vols to accomplish that feat.
Tennessee hosts 13th-ranked Florida?the Southeastern Conference's first-place team this weekend for a three-game series. Game times are set for 7 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Friday's game will be televised regionally on SportSouth, while Saturday's contest will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Net.