NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UTSports.com) -- All nine Tennessee starters had at least one hit, while nine UT pitchers combined to allow just five, as the Volunteer baseball team improved to 17-4 on the season with a 7-3 victory over Lipscomb at Marsh Stadium on Wednesday evening.
"The effort was great," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "We came out and were definitely focused and ready to play. We had the hour and something rain delay, but I still thought we were ready after. I was proud about that and thought we did a good job coming out of the gates, but we left 16 guys on. That's way too many. We didn't do a good job in that situation, but we did a lot of other good things.
"We only gave up five hits and three runs, so I thought all of the pitchers did well. We only had one game this week, so we wanted to pitch a lot of guys. We wanted to get them sharp and ready for the weekend against Ole Miss."
The Big Orange waited out a rain delay of one hour, 31 minutes prior to the start of the contest before its offense erupted for seven runs on 16 hits to give Raleigh his 100th victory at the helm of the Tennessee program. In his fourth season with the Vols, the UT skipper is now 100-88 (.532).
It was just another day at the plate for senior Khayyan Norfork who added three more hits to his SEC-leading total of 40. Those 40 hits have come in just 80 at-bats through the first 21 games as his batting average remained at an even .500. The Ripley, Tenn., native also stole a base and knocked in a run.
Fellow classmate Josh Liles collected a pair of base-hits as well, as both players improved their hitting streaks to career-high strings of 12 games. Two other seniors also had strong contests for the Vols as Matt Duffy walked three times, scored twice, stole a base and had two hits, while Tyler Horne launched his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second inning.
Freshman Carter Watson picked up his fourth win of the year with 1.1 frames of perfect work out of the bullpen. He struck out three of the four batters he faced. As a team, nine Volunteer pitches combined to strike out 13, while walking just two over the course of the nine full frames.
After a scoreless first, Horne got the scoring started with a mammoth two-run blast well over the 375-foot marker in left-center off of Lipscomb starter Chris Nunn. The Bisons would score one run in each of the next two frames to tie it, but the Vols plated three in the fifth to take control of the contest.
Duffy got things started with a five-pitch walk before Liles punched a single through the left side of the infield on a hit-and-run. That single chased Nunn from the game and freshman Ethan Bennett welcomed reliever Chad Fromm to the game with a run-scoring single to left. Although the next two batters were retired quietly, an error by the shortstop and an RBI single by Norfork gave the Vols a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way at 5-2.
Tennessee added another unearned run in the sixth when Duffy came racing all the way around to score from first on a single to right by Liles that the right-fielder let slip under his glove. The Bisons would keep the damage to a minimum that frame though as Fromm got a big strikeout to end the stanza and leave two runners on.
In the seventh, junior Davis Morgan greeted former Johnson County Community College teammate Gil Rehwinkel with a single and quickly moved up to third on a double by junior Zach Osborne as he ripped an 0-2 pitch off the base of the wall in left. Following a strikeout, freshman Andrew Toles took advantage of a drawn-in infield and blooped a single over the head of the second baseman to extend the Orange and White's lead to five at 7-2.
Lipscomb would close out the scoring with the final run of the game in the bottom of the frame as an error and a single by Logan Hostettler moved the tally on the scoreboard to 7-3. Sophomore Zack Godley would shake off the misfortune though and get the next batter to line into a double play before redshirt sophomore Hunter Daniel come on to strike out the final batter of the frame.
First-year Vol Nick Williams would twirl a scoreless eighth before junior Matt Ramsey slammed the door closed with three punchouts in the bottom of the ninth.
Tennessee will return to SEC play this weekend when Ole Miss makes the trek to Rocky Top for a three-game set. First pitch on Friday will be at 6 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday's contests will start at 3 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. The final two games will be televised on SportSouth with UT's own Bob Kesling and Rusty Ensor on the call.
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