CARY, N.C. (UT Release) – Two big innings by No. 25 Virginia Tech proved to be too much to overcome as Tennessee dropped a 7-3 decision on the final day of the USA Baseball Irish Classic at Coleman Field at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
After the Hokies put up a four-spot in the third, Tennessee used two-out rallies in the next three innings to inch within a single tally, only to see VT pull away with a three-run eighth.
“The third inning got away from us where they scored four runs but we fought back, we chipped away and got a run in three straight frames and that is what I think Volunteer baseball is supposed to be about,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “We made some two-strike adjustments, put the ball in play which we haven’t been doing a great job of, and got some two-out base hits. That is the mentality we have to have.
“We need to find an identity as a baseball team. Right now, we are a bunch of good kids that aren’t playing as a baseball team and that bothers me because this has the opportunity to be a good team. The only way we can be good is if we start playing together and start being on the same page about a lot of different things.”
Will Maddox led the Orange and White offensive effort, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. The multi-hit contest marked the sixth consecutive game and ninth time in 11 games this season in which he has accomplished that feat.
During his current six-game hitting streak, the Gainesville, Ga., native is hitting at a scalding .520 clip (13-for-25) with seven RBIs and five runs scored. For the year, he leads the squad with a .420 batting average, nine RBIs and nine runs scored.
Freshman Aaron Quillen suffered the loss for the Big Orange, allowing four runs – two earned – while scattering eight hits over six innings of work. Junior Nick Williams came out of the bullpen to strike out two in a perfect 1.1 frames of relief.
Virginia Tech took advantage of a Tennessee error to get on the board in the third as the miscue helped extend the frame in which the Hokies got a bases-loaded, bases-clearing triple from Tyler Horan and an RBI single from Andrew Rash to jump out to a 4-0 lead.
The Vols proceeded to punch right back, however, using two-out rallies in each of the next three to cut the Hokie lead down to just one run. In the third, Taylor Smart got the ball rolling with a single before A.J. Simcox was hit by a pitch. Maddox then came through with the first of his two two-out RBIs on the day, punching a single to right.
Just an inning later, a hit by pitch played a large role once again as Pierce Bily was drilled by a 1-2 pitch with two outs. He then promptly stole second before coming around the final 180 feet to score when Andrew Lee lined a single just past the glove of the diving Hokie shortstop into left for a single.
UT’s final run of the contest came after two quick outs in the fifth when Simcox reached on an error by his counterpart at short, stole second and scored on a double down the right-field line by Maddox.
The two teams would then trade zeroes until the eighth when Virginia Tech broke the game open with a three-run frame featuring a two-run single and a bases-loaded walk.
Tennessee will next be in action this Tuesday when it welcomes Belmont to Knoxville for a 6 p.m. contest at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.