KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee took advantage of a Western Kentucky error to score three unearned runs in the first inning and five Volunteer pitchers made it hold up, combining for a nine-hit shutout, in a 4-0 triumph over the Hilltoppers on Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
With the win, the Vols move their record over .500 for the first time this season at 8-7, while WKU falls to 7-8 on the year.
Sophomore Parker Wormsley drove in three of UT's runs on the day with a two-out, two-RBI single in the first and a successful safety squeeze in the eighth, finishing 2-for-2 at the plate.
Making his first collegiate start, freshman Trevor Bettencourt picked up his first win with three strikeouts in 3.2 shutout innings. Junior Dalton Saberhagen added three scoreless frames of relief before Eric Martin and Nick Williams pitched the eighth and ninth innings to close out the win.
“I thought the back-breaker of the game was that they got the first two guys on in the first inning, we came out of it unscathed without giving up a run, then we load the bases, they get two punch outs against us, and then we get a run and Parker Wormsley comes up with a big base hit,” Serrano said. “Those are back-breakers.”
“The pitching stayed strong throughout the day. Trevor Bettencourt kind of bobbed-and-weaved a little bit in the third and fourth and then I thought Sabes came in and did a great job of keeping them off balance. [Drake] Owenby came in and got the one big out against their middle of the order hitter, [Eric] Martin threw a good eighth and then Nick [Williams] came in and did what Nick does."
Western Kentucky starter Austin Clay suffered his first loss of the year despite not giving up an earned run in five innings of work. He allowed five hits and struck out four.
"The young man, Clay, who started for them, there's a reason why his numbers are so good,” Serrano said. “He's a good pitcher. I told the team that any pitcher that was watching that game saw where his success came from. He's down in the zone, he threw strikes, he threw to both sides of the plate, changed speeds tremendously well and there's a reason why he's been successful for them. It made it tough for us, but we battled early on.”
Tennessee and Western Kentucky will play again at 4 p.m. on Tuesday in what will be the Orange and White's final tune-up before Southeastern Conference play.
Freshman southpaw Andy Cox (1-1, 7.50) will get the ball for the Vols while the Hilltoppers will send lefthander Anderson Miller to the mound for the first time this season.