April 27, 2007
BATON ROUGE, La. — Tennessee pitcher James Adkins broke UT's all-time strikeouts record Friday night while leading the Volunteers baseball team to a 7-1 triumph over LSU at Alex Box Stadium. Adkins' 14-strikeout performance gave UT its fourth win ever in Baton Rouge and helped the Vols improve to 24-18 (7-10 SEC) on the year.
Adkins got Jason Lewis to strikeout looking in the bottom of the sixth inning to break former Vol great R.A. Dickey's school record of 345 strikeouts from 1994-96. Tennessee's new "Strikeouts King," Adkins now has 350 Ks for his career and 103 on the season.
"I came to Tennessee my freshman year and looked on the wall and saw the record and said, 'I'm going to break that.' Adkins noted after the game. "When I actually did do it, I thought 'wow.' R.A. Dickey is one of the greatest pitchers ever to come through here. (Breaking his record) is overwhelming"
It was Adkins' sixth career complete game and his second of 2007. The
preseason All-America selection scattered three hits and issued three walks while coming within one strikeout of tying his career high. The win pushed his record to 5-6 on the year and lowered his season ERA to 2.83.
"James pitched really well," UT head coach Rod Delmonico said. "He just keeps getting better."
All-America catcher J.P. Arencibia led the Vols offensively with three RBIs on a pair of hits - including the 200th hit of his career. Lockwood belted out three of UT's 10 hits.
After failing to produce a baserunner in the first two innings Friday, the
Vols exploded for six runs on three hits in the top of the third. LSU starting pitcher Charlie Furbush was chased from the game after UT built a 6-0 lead, and he took the loss to fall to 3-6.
Tennessee's speed on the basepaths led to its first two runs. After drawing a base on balls, left fielder Jarred Frazier stole second base before scoring on a double down the left line by right fielder Andy Simunic. One batter later, Simunic stole third base and then came home on an RBI fielder's choice by preseason All-America centerfielder Julio Borbon. The Vols loaded the bases with one out later in the third, and Arencibia sent a bases-clearing double into centerfield. The three-run double was the 200th hit of Arencibia's career, making him the 13th Vol ever to join the school's 200-hit club.
Tennessee closed out its third-inning flurry when Arencibia scored from second on an RBI single by freshman designated hitter Jeff Lockwood. Adkins, meanwhile, was cruising early on. The left-handed junior - who had a forgettable one-inning start at Alex Box Stadium as a freshman in 2005 (seven runs allowed) - surrendered just one hit in the first three innings, with five strikeouts.
Tigers designated hitter Blake Dean found a pitch he liked from Adkins in the fourth, however, belting a solo home run that provided LSU's only offense to that point.
The Vols put together three legitimate attempts to build on their five-run
lead, but they stranded a runner on third base in the fourth, sixth and
seventh innings. LSU put runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Adkins recorded his 11th strikeout of the night before inducing an inning-ending double play. Tennessee entered the weekend leading the SEC in double plays and ranking 15th among NCAA Division I teams with 44 twin-kills on the year. The Vols turned two double plays in the game.
Tennessee left the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, but only after
Lockwood gave the Vols a six-run cushion with an RBI single that plated Arencibia.
Tennessee tied a season-high with its six-run inning Friday. It was the fifth time this season the Vols pulled off the feat, and the third time in SEC play.
The Big Orange are now 17-0 when they out-hit their opponent.
The series resumes Saturday at 3 p.m. CT, as the Vols seek their first-ever series win in Baton Rouge. Senior right-hander Craig Cobb (6-3, 5.04 ERA) will start on the mound for UT opposite Tigers left-hander Ryan Byrd (5-1, 4.20 ERA).