Vols vs. La Salle
KNOXVILLE (UT Athletics) - With a 10-2 thrashing of La Salle Wednesday night, the No. 19 University of Tennessee baseball team completed a midweek sweep and improved to 12-0 on the year, extending the team's best start in program history.
The Vols finished out their 12-game homestand to start the 2014 season undefeated, outscoring their opponents 124-31 during that stretch. La Salle fell to 1-11 in 2014 with the loss.
"I'm not a believer in turning the switch on and off, and I kind of felt we turned the switch off a little bit tonight and I hope that doesn't come back to bite us," said head coach Dave Serrano. "I'm very proud of our 12-0, but we still – and I know I keep saying this and I'm repeating myself – we have a lot of things to still fix to be the kind of team that I know these guys want to be and this coaching staff wants to be.
"The unfortunate thing for our players is that they play for a coaching staff that is perfectionists.
"We will always look at things and try to fix things to make them better. We know it's never going to be perfect but we're striving for that each and every day. In today's world that's a good thing but it's always difficult for our players because we're not going to let them get away with anything even though the results are going our way right now."
For the second night in a row, 21 Vols saw action during the game led by Nick Senzel who was 1-for-2 on the night with a bases-clearing three-RBI double and two runs scored.
Nine Vols walked on the night led by Scott Price and Johnny Youngblood who had two each. Youngblood came around to score on both free passes.
Bret Marks picked up his first win of the season in three innings of work, allowing just one hit and striking out two.
Tennessee got on the board first tallying three runs on no hits. The Vols took advantage of walks and La Salle miscues in the bottom of the second. Senzel started the inning off with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
After Vincent Jackson drew another walk, the speedster drew an errant throw from La Salle's starting pitcher Jorge Jimenez as he was going for second and he moved all the way to third on the failed pickoff, while Senzel came across for the first run of the night.
Jackson immediately came home on a wild pitch during Taylor Smart's at bat.
Smart drew the Vols' third walk of the inning, moving up to second on a balk and immediately took off for third reaching within 90 feet of home plate before a pitch was even thrown in Tyler Schultz's at bat. Smart then came home on a deep sacrifice fly by Schultz to left field.
The Vols added to their lead in the fifth inning tacking five more on the board. Youngblood started things off with a walk, used a delayed steal to reach second, advanced to third on an errant throw to centerfield by La Salle's catcher and scored on a single by Price.
Price moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by A.J. Simcox and was joined on the basepaths by Will Maddox who walked, La Salle's sixth walk surrendered on the night. Christin Stewart loaded the bases after a catcher's interference call and Senzel cleared them on a double to left centerfield.
Senzel advanced to third on a groundout to the pitcher and crossed the plate as Smart reached on an infield single to shortstop to give UT an 8-0 lead after five complete.
La Salle got two back in the next half inning using three-straight hits, a single up the middle, a triple to right center and a single to center to bring it within six but the Vols' added one more in the bottom of the eighth for an even 10 runs.
Tennessee takes its nation leading 13-game win streak, dating back to the end of 2013 into Tempe, Ariz., this weekend for a three-game stretch at #24 Arizona State, UT's first road trip of the season.
"[Arizona State] has two very good left-handed pitchers in their rotation," said Serrano. "We saw both of them last year. That will be a challenge for us due to the fact that we're so left-handed with our lineup. They have a good offense; they have guys back from last year. It is a hostile environment, which will be good for our guys to experience because we're going to experience that in the SEC.
"They're a good team; it's a great traditional program. We're excited as a group because we're still trying to make a name for ourselves. We're 12-0, but we're not getting the recognition around the country that maybe I believe we should be, but maybe there's a reason for that. We're going to have to go out and beat some big boys to start proving ourselves to the country."