KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee closed out the 2013 campaign on a high note on Saturday, defeating Texas A&M, 7-5, on Senior Day at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
“It is a nice way to go out,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “I give a lot of credit to our players, they could have showed up and mailed it in. Everything had been taken away from us [in terms] of any opportunity we had. I told our players, that was a character win right there. I will not say that that win builds us into next year because there is a lot of work that we have to do. One win doesn't turn around a season.
“We have a lot of work to do and it starts tomorrow for the coaching staff and the players, guys going out to summer ball. Every one of us has to get better in every facet. This is the last senior class that I want to see leave without a postseason appearance. It really tears me up that this program still hasn't been to Hoover since 2007. There are too many good things in this program to say that and I want to be the one, and this coaching staff wants to be the one, and I hope the players that we have coming back -and there are quite a few of them- want to be the ones that can say we're the first ones to get this program back to where it should be each and every year.”
After falling behind by four early on Saturday, the Volunteers responded with six unanswered runs with Scott Price and A.J. Simcox driving in two runs each.
Price finished 3-for-4 in the contest to give him a team-leading .361 batting average for the season, the highest by a UT player since Cody Hawn hit .364 in 2009.
Eric Martin picked up his first career win, throwing 4.0 scoreless innings of relief in which he struck out four and allowed just four hits. It was actually the first decision of his career - win, loss or save - as he was making his team-leading 22nd appearance of the season and 31st of his career.
Trevor Charpie recorded his second save of the year, tallying the final five outs of the game without allowing a hit. The save was the ninth on the season for Tennessee, all of which were recorded by true freshmen.
Prior to the game the Vols honored seniors Zack Godley and Zach Luther, as well as senior student assistants Hunter Mitchem and Andy Yates. Godley got the start in centerfield to open the game before being lifted before the first pitch, allowing him to take a curtain call to put the final touches on a stellar collegiate career.
The Aggies wasted little time jumping out to a quick lead on Saturday as the first two batters of the game reached base and Cole Lankford followed with a three-run shot over the wall in right to give A&M a 3-0 lead before the first out was recorded.
The Vols would settle down to keep them off the board the rest of the frame though and then got one of the runs back in the home half of the inning when Simcox lined a single to right, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a single through the right side by Price.
A leadoff home run by Krey Bratsen to start the second pushed the A&M lead back to three before an RBI single in the top of the fourth put the Orange and White in a 5-1 deficit.
Tennessee cut that down to two with a pair of runs in the bottom of the stanza when Smart followed singles by Price and Ethan Bennett with a two-RBI double down the left-field line.
The score would remain 5-3 in favor of the Aggies until the Vols put together a three-run frame in the bottom of the seventh to take their first lead of the day.
Jeff Moberg and Parker Wormsley got things started with back-to-back singles and a sac bunt by Luther moved them both into scoring position. Simcox then laced the first pitch he saw into the gap in right-center for a game-tying stand-up triple, the first three-bagger of his career. Although A&M got a strikeout for the second out, Price pulled an RBI single through the left side to give UT a 6-5 lead.
The Big Orange tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth with pinch-runner Heath Loyd scoring from third on a wild pitch.
Charpie then closed the book on the 2013 campaign by getting three consecutive groundouts to third to end the game. Fittingly, senior Zach Luther was on the receiving end of all three plays at first to finish off the game, the season and his playing career.
The Volunteers finish the 2013 season with an overall record of 22-30 and an 8-20 mark in Southeastern Conference play.