COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- Seven Tennessee pitchers combined to allow just four hits against one of the nation’s top-ranked offenses, as the No. 21 Vols routed in-state foe Tennessee Tech on Tuesday, 10-1.
The third straight win for the Vols improves the team to 22-9 overall, matching last season’s win total with 23 regular season games left to play.
The Vol hurlers gave up just four hits – only one for extra bases – to a Tennessee Tech (25-9) team that came into the contest ranked first in the nation in runs scored (287), third in hits (371) and sixth in batting average (.317).
Sophomore right-hander Trevor Bettencourt (1-1) recorded the win for the Orange and White, giving up one hit over two innings of work. Bettencourt, who made his 13th appearance of the season, tied a season high with three strikeouts. Junior Bret Marks got the start, giving up two hits and Tennessee Tech’s only run over two innings.
Drake Owenby, Peter Lenstrohm, Andy Cox, Josh Peterson and Andrew Lee also pitched for the Vols. The trio of Owenby, Lenstrohm and Cox did not allow a hit over a combined three innings.
“I have a lot of respect for that program and it’s an older group,” said head coach Dave Serrano. “I knew it was going to be a tough game, especially coming off the high we were on after this weekend. It wasn’t as big of an atmosphere as we’ve been playing in, but we didn’t fall into that trap. I’m really proud of our guys for that.
“I’m very happy with the way we pitched tonight. We had too many walks – I always find a little bit of a negative – I want to be a perfectionist. But I’m very happy with the way we competed. That’s a very good offensive team. They’ve put up tremendous number and we held them at bay. We did a good job of stringing together some runs and good at-bats to score the 10 runs.”
Offensively, Tennessee had four players record multi-hit games. Christin Stewart led the way with a 2-for-4 effort, blasting his team-leading fourth home run and finishing the game with three RBIs. Will Maddox was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, while freshman Nick Senzel went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in. Nathaniel Maggio also notched a multi-hit game, which included a double in the ninth inning.
The Vols out-hit the Golden Eagles 12-4 in the contest.
Tennessee led off the game with opposite-field singles by Maddox and A.J. Simcox to put runners on the corners with no outs. Scott Price ripped the first pitch he saw but it was right at TTU first baseman Zach Stephens, who stepped on first to double-up Simcox. Maddox was forced to stay at third on the play. Senzel drove in the first run of the game by beating out a slow roller to the shortstop for his 22nd RBI of the season, putting the Vols on top 1-0.
Tennessee Tech got a single from Jake Rowland and a double right down the left field line by cleanup hitter Brandon Thomasson to tie the game up after one. Stewart, the Vols’ left fielder, was shading heavily towards center on the play.
Stewart broke the 1-1 tie in the fourth inning with a moonshot over the right-center wall to give the Vols a 3-1 lead. As the rain picked up, Stewart blasted the full-count pitch for his team-leading fourth dinger of the season. Senzel, who reached base on a catcher’s interference call, came around to score on the Vols’ 12th homer of the season.
Taylor Smart led off the seventh inning with an infield single off TTU’s Daniel Miles’ glove at third base, marking the first hit for UT since the home run back in the fourth. Maggio then bounced a single through the right side, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Tyler Schultz dropped down his third sac bunt of the season to move Maggio into scoring position, and Maddox brought him home with a fielder’s choice to extend the Big Orange’s lead to 5-1.
Tennessee Tech got one man on base in the seventh via a walk by Lenstrohm, prompting Coach Serrano to bring in Cox. The southpaw, who entered the game having not allowed an earned run in 10 2/3 innings, tossed one pitch and got the 6-3 double play to get the Vols out of the inning and hang onto the 5-1 lead. Lenstrohm walked just one and struck out one over one scoreless inning of work.
TTU’s Dylan Bosheers singled up the middle in the eighth, marking the first hit for the Golden Eagles in 5 1/3 innings.
The Vols broke it open in the ninth inning with five runs on four hits. All five runs were unearned for UT in the frame. Bosheers – the TTU shortstop – committed the costly throwing error, as three runs came in to score when he threw the ball away on a play at second base, which would have been the final out of the inning.
The Vols head to Athens, Ga., for a three-game SEC series at Foley Field from April 10-12. The Big Orange and Bulldogs kick off the series Thursday night on ESPNU. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. Game two of the series will be played at 7 p.m. on Friday and the series finale will be on Saturday at 4 p.m.
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