CARY, N.C. (UT Release) - Tennessee used a pair of successful squeeze plays in the fifth inning and strong bullpen work after that to pick up a 6-4 victory over UMass on a chilly Saturday afternoon at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
"We executed well with the inside game which has to become a bigger part of our game," UT head coach Dave Serrano said. "We got some hit batters which was huge and is also a part of our offense, it is no different than getting a hit. We'll take a win right now. We are scratching and clawing for everything we can get.
"It was good to see the bullpen slow it down a little bit and allow our offense to get on top. To win a close game is always good right now, especially since we have lost some close games. It is important for us to go out tomorrow and win and walk away with a series win, even though it wasn't against one opponent."
Sophomore Parker Wormsley laid down a perfect suicide squeeze and classmate Jason Manis added one of the safety variety to break a 4-4 tie in the fifth inning.
Blake Thomas, Dalton Saberhagen and Trevor Charpie, meanwhile, combined to work 6.1 innings of scoreless relief on the mound, allowing just four combined hits, to keep the lead intact and preserve the victory for the Vols.
Thomas picked up the win in his Tennessee debut with two shutout innings while Charpie recorded his first career save with a pair of shutout frames as well.
Wormsley and Will Maddox each delivered two hits in the contest to pace a nine-hit UT effort. Six different Vols knocked in a run in the contest.
The Orange and White got an RBI single from Scott Price in the top of the first to take the early lead and quickly tacked on three more in the following frame with Zach Luther, A.J. Simcox and Maddox each driving in runs to put UT up 4-0.
The Minutemen, however, bounced back with two runs in the home half of both the second and third innings to tie the game.
Following a scoreless fourth, the Vols put runners on second and third with one out after a walk to David Houser and a double down the left-field line by Pierce Bily. Wormsley then bunted an 0-1 pitch out in front of the plate as Houser came racing in from third to score the eventual game-winning run.
Just two pitches later, Tennessee went right back to the squeeze play with Manis at the plate, as he pushed a bunt down the first-base line to allow Bily to cross the plate and put the tally on the scoreboard at 6-4.
The Big Orange will close out its stay at the USA Baseball-Irish Classic on Sunday with a noon showdown against No. 25 Virginia Tech. Freshman right-hander Aaron Quillen will get the nod on the mound for Tennessee.