MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee State scored early and often on Tuesday, plating five runs in the second and three more in the fourth en route to an 11-4 victory over Tennessee at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
“I am the leader of this program and am very proud of that, but I’m not proud of the product we are putting on the field right now,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “We have a lot of work to do, a lot of decisions to make. We’ve lived through this for a year and we’ve had a lot of good times, but the hard times are hitting us and it doesn’t feel really good. This coaching staff is committed to excellence and we will put people around us that are committed to the same thing. I’m not pointing fingers, but we just aren’t good enough right now. That’s the bottom line. We aren’t good enough and right now we aren’t showing a toughness to show up every day.
“Even though we have been mathematically eliminated from a goal that we had, it is still a baseball game, it is still a competition. Even though we aren’t playing for anything right now, we are playing for a great university and a program that has had some great representatives. That is who we are playing for right now, the people who have worn this uniform and have done a lot of great things to make this a great opportunity for our players and a great opportunity for myself.”
Zach Luther led a 12-hit Tennessee offensive effort, recording his second three-hit game of the season. Four other Vols added two hits each as well, including Brentwood native Richard Carter who was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI double after entering the game as a pinch hitter in the fourth inning.
With a single in the fifth frame, senior Zach Osborne tallied his 223rd career hit, tying him with former Vol Julio Borbon (2005-07) for ninth in school history.
The Tennessee bullpen settled down following a rough start to the contest as Dalton Saberhagen, Zack Godley and Eric Martin combined to allow just one unearned run over the final four innings. For Godley, it was his first appearance since April 19 as he returned from an oblique strain.
After MTSU jumped out to a 6-0 lead thanks to a five-run second inning in which it sent all nine batters to the plate, Tennessee finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the third. Will Maddox got the ball rolling with a one-out single over the shortstop’s head before moving to second on a balk. Osborne then drew a walk before Davis Morgan came through with an RBI base hit to plate UT’s first run of the game.
The Blue Raiders answered with a tally of their own in the home half of the third but Tennessee got it back in the top of the fourth. Carter knocked a pinch-hit single into left to lead off the stanza and came home to score just seconds later on a single by Chris Pierce as the right fielder mishandled the ball on the play.
Once again, MTSU responded enthusiastically though, answering three-fold to take a 10-2 advantage. Tennessee then made it six straight frames with a run as Osborne singled, moved to second on a walk and scored on an RBI double down the left-field line by Carter in the top of the fifth.
The next tally came in the bottom of the eighth as MTSU scored its final run of the game on a passed ball with a runner at third to go ahead 11-3. The Big Orange tacked on a ninth-inning run with Pierce drawing a bases-loaded walk with two outs to finish off the scoring for the night.
Tennessee will close out the 2012 campaign with a three-game series against No. 18 Arkansas in Knoxville this week. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday before the season comes to an end with a 4 p.m. contest on Saturday.
For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee baseball program, visit UTSports.com/baseball and follow @Vol_Baseball on Twitter.