Five Tennessee relief pitchers combined to throw 7.1 innings of one-run ball and the Volunteer offense pounded out a dozen runs on 14 hits to claim a 12-3 victory over Arkansas State on Wednesday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
"I told the team, winning is always fun," UT head coach Dave Serrano said. "We've had them few and far between. It was a good confidence builder for our team, we took it to Arkansas State. That's a good confidence builder heading into this weekend [at No. 14 Arkansas].
"We know that we have challenges ahead of us this weekend, but this is good for our confidence, especially before a long trip to Fayetteville tonight. It will be exciting to go into that atmosphere, play in front of that many people and we know what we have to do. We have to play good baseball, and we have our work cut out for us."
Four different UT players recorded multiple RBIs in the win with Christin Stewart leading the way with the second three-RBI game of his career. He finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, a run scored and his third home run of the season.
Scott Price also had a strong day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs, while Jeff Moberg and Vincent Jackson each knocked in a pair of runs as well.
Aaron Quillen (2-3) picked up his second win of the season, striking out three and allowing just one hit in 2.1 scoreless innings. Eric Martin added two shutout frames before Drake Owenby and Andy Cox fired perfect frames in the seventh and eighth, respectively. Trevor Bettencourt struck out the side in the top of the ninth to finish off the contest.
The two teams traded two-run home runs early in the contest with Ryan Emery going deep in the first for the Red Wolves before Stewart launched a moonshot over the scoreboard in right-center to tie the game in the second.
Tennessee took the lead the very next stanza with Price following a single by Simcox with an RBI triple to the gap in left-center. Jackson would then drive Price in two pitches later with a chopper to second.
The Vols continued to apply the pressure, tacking two more tallies on the scoreboard in the fifth. Once again Price was right in the middle of things, getting the rally started with a one-out single to left. A base hit by Jackson and walk to Taylor Smart then loaded the bases before Stewart drew an eight-pitch walk to earn his third RBI of the day. Pierce Bily then made it a 6-2 UT lead with a groundball to third that allowed Jackson to cross the plate.
The runs kept coming for the Big Orange as it scored four more times in the sixth and twice in the seventh to take a commanding 12-2 advantage. The first four batters of the sixth reached base for the Vols with Simcox and Price each knocking in runs with RBI singles. Jackson and Smart then followed with back-to-back sacrifice flies to right field.
In the seventh, Derek Lance drew a leadoff walk and Heath Loyd followed with a pinch-hit double down the left-field line for his first career hit. Moberg then brought them both in, lacing a two-run two-bagger to left-center for UT's final two runs of the night.
Tennessee will next be in action this weekend when it hits the road to take on No. 14 Arkansas in Fayetteville, May 10-12, at Baum Stadium. The series will open with a 7:35 p.m. ET contest on Friday. The final two games will both be televised on Cox Sports Television with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday and 2:05 p.m. ET on Sunday.