Knoxville, Tenn.--(UTSports) Tennessee took advantage of six walks issued by Purdue and piled on seven runs in the second inning en route to an 8-2 win on Monday and a season-opening series sweep of the Boilermakers.
For the weekend, the Volunteers (3-0) outscored Purdue (0-3) by a 31-4 margin and hit .388 with a .505 slugging percentage. On the mound, the Vol pitchers closed the opening series with a 1.33 ERA.
“It was a good weekend for many reasons; a sweep is always good,” said head coach Dave Serrano. “We got a lot of guys in and a lot of pitchers got their feet wet for the first time. “I’m proud of how we opened up. There are a lot of good things happening, but I keep reiterating to our team that we still have a long ways to go. I don’t think anyone has ever won an SEC championship or a national championship on a weekend sweep. It gets us going in the right direction, but I told them that even if we started 0-3, we are still going to work on the same things come Wednesday. We are still going to continue to build as a team and a program and not be satisfied with where we are at.”
Making his first career appearance on the mound for the Vols, sophomore starting right-hander Andrew Lee delivered a five-inning, four-hit performance with three strikeouts to earn the victory. Coming off Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2012, the Morristown, Tenn., native played first base and was a designated hitter for UT as a freshman in 2013. The Vols’ ace delivered 75 total pitches in the appearance, including 49 for strikes.
“Today was a team win, but it was mainly about Andrew Lee,” said Serrano. “He has worked extremely hard. I never will forget that phone call in June of his senior year that he told me that he was going to need Tommy John surgery and wouldn’t be able to pitch for us his first year. He has worked extremely hard, and there has been a lot of patience involved in this. He has healed well, and he is a welcome member on this pitching staff. He did exactly what I talked about. He pounds the strike zone, and he sets the tempo. I am very proud of him.”
Purdue struck first in the game, benefiting from a Scott Price error in the outfield in the top of the second inning, which allowed designated hitter Kyle Wood to come around and score on a Kyle Johnson single.
Shortly after, Price made up for it at the plate. With the bases loaded in the second frame, Purdue walked in back-to-back runs and balked a third. Junior Will Maddox was walked as well to reload the bases with Price stepping into the box. The senior then delivered the Vols’ biggest hit of the night, sending a double to the left-center wall and clearing the bases to give Tennessee a 6-1 lead.
Sophomore A.J. Simcox followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Price to third. A pitch got away from Purdue’s Gavin Downs and Price came home to extend the lead to 7-1 in the second inning. Price extended his hit streak to 15 games dating back to last season with a four-RBI, 2-for-3 performance.
Tennessee would tack on one more run in the game as Price placed a single through the right side to score Maddox in the third inning. Wood picked up a two-out double in the top of the eighth to cut the deficit to the final margin of 8-2.
Junior College transfers Peter Lenstrohm and Zac Grotz pitched in relief for the Vols after Lee’s five innings. Lenstrohm worked through two innings, allowing just one hit, while Grotz closed out the night with two innings of his own.
The Vols scored their eight runs on just seven hits. Freshman designated hitter Nick Senzel continued his hot start to the season, going 2-for-2 at the plate and stealing a base. Simcox, Maddox and Jeff Moberg each added singles in the contest.
Tennessee is now 3-0 for the second time under Serrano. The Big Orange swept Northern Illinois to start the 2012 season.
The Orange and White returns to the Lindsey Nelson Stadium diamond on Wednesday afternoon against Appalachian State, in a game that was originally scheduled for Tuesday.
The Vols will send left-handed pitcher Andy Cox to the mound to take on the Mountaineers at 3 p.m. ET.