KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee raced out to a seven-run lead after three innings and never looked back as it completed a series sweep over Alcorn State with a 12-4 victory at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
With the win the Volunteers even their overall record at 7-7 with just two games remaining before the start of Southeastern Conference action against Alabama in Tuscaloosa next weekend.
After putting up double-digit run totals in both of the first two games of the series, the Big Orange got the ball rolling offensively quickly on Sunday, batting around and scoring four runs in the home half of the first inning.
All of the damage in that frame came with two outs on the scoreboard, something that has been a staple of the UT offense this season. In fact, 42 of the team’s 81 RBIs this season have come with two outs. In the first inning on Sunday, Andrew Lee struck the first blow with a run-scoring double down the left-field line. A hit batter and a pair of walks, all with the bases loaded, accounted for the final three runs of the stanza.
"That's very pleasing, especially for a young team to do that,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “That's kind of been our MO a lot through this year so far, we have had a lot of two-out RBIs. The thing that we haven't done - we had one today - is we haven't had a lot of sacrifice flies with runners in scoring position.
“I know we got one today, and we might have gotten one on Friday, but the two-out RBIs, those are back-breakers for a defense when a team gets two-out RBIs. I commend our guys, especially with the inexperience that we've started out with, that they're able to do that and they're staying within themselves and they're coming up big with two outs."
Freshman Aaron Quillen (1-1) struck out seven over six innings of work to pick up his first collegiate win. He allowed four runs on just five hits and walked only one.
The Kingsport, Tenn., native faced the minimum through the first three innings before running into a touch of trouble in the fourth. He settled down though and retired seven of the final 10 batters that he faced.
"I thought he gave us a great quality start, just like he did last Sunday,” Serrano said. “He could have kept going to be honest with you. We didn't use that many guys this weekend and I wanted to get some guys in. It wasn't that [Aaron] was faltering at all, I just wanted to get some guys some work and felt comfortable with making that move. I'm very happy with the way [Aaron's] thrown the ball and he's continuing to get better with each and every start."
Fellow classmates Andy Cox and Trevor Bettencourt followed with scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth before handing the ball off to Nick Williams who struck out the side on nine pitches to close out the sweep in dominating fashion.
Junior Scott Price paced the 11-hit Tennessee attack, going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and a walk.
After going 4-for-5 in yesterday's contest, freshman Lee continued his tear at the plate, recording two more hits and driving in two runs. For the weekend, he finished 7-for-14 with a team-high seven RBIs.
As a team, the Vols were a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts on Sunday with Taylor Smart and Will Maddox swiping a pair of bags each.
After UT’s four-run first inning, it kept the pressure on in the next two frames with Pierce Bily punching an RBI single to right in the second and Simcox roping a two-run double to the gap in right-center in the third to put the score at 7-0.
Although the Braves fought back with four runs of their own in the top of the fourth, the Orange and White kept them off the scoreboard the rest of the way before putting up a five-spot in the bottom of the eight. Maddox, Lee and Christin Stewart all had RBI singles in that frame, while Bily added a sac fly and Jeff Moberg plated the game’s final run with a two-out, pinch-hit double to left-center.
The sweep is Tennessee's first since it took all three games against Alabama in Knoxville last year, March 30-April 1.
The Vols will next be in action when they host Western Kentucky for a two-game midweek set on Tuesday and Wednesday. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. both days.