KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (School release)– Three Vol pitchers combined to throw a one-hitter in the opener and the UT offense exploded for 20 runs on 23 hits in the nightcap as the Vols started the 2014 campaign with two wins vs. Purdue on Sunday.
Tennessee (2-0) started Sunday with a stellar performance on the mound and ended it with an offensive explosion against the Boilermakers (0-2). The Vols took the opener, 3-0, and won game two by a dominating 20-2 margin. The Vols' 20 runs are their most scored since putting up 25 at Georgia on May 8, 2010.
"[The offense] was very encouraging. We're a tough offense," said head coach Dave Serrano. "I had to deal with it all fall and in the winter before we started. We're going to make some teams pay. Good pitching shuts down good hitting a lot of the time, but we're going to make some teams pay if they can't keep running arms out there at us. I think we showed some signs of that today.
"I'm just proud of the guys. It was a long first day and they stayed involved for 18 innings, and there's a lot of positive energy coming out of that dugout. I think this team realizes what I've been saying for a long time, we have a chance to be good but we still have to prove it each and every day on the field."
Freshman Hunter Martin, senior Nick Williams and sophomore closer Drake Owenby combined to allow just one hit and tossed a shutout to lead the Vols to a 3-0 win over Purdue in the early afternoon contest.
Martin, the Vols' starter for game one of the doubleheader, threw three innings of one-hit ball to get UT started. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native gave way to senior Nick Williams, who took over from there.
Williams tossed five stellar innings of no-hit baseball, striking out two and walking just two Boilermakers to get the Vols to the ninth inning. Owenby came in to finish the game off in the ninth, earning his first save of the season. Williams earned the victory.
The Vols' bats were just warming up early in the day, as freshman Nathaniel Maggio led the way with a 2-for-4 performance in game one. His classmate Nick Senzel – the second-straight true freshman to open the season in the cleanup spot (Andrew Lee) – was 1-for-3 with a double and a RBI. Last season, Lee was the first true freshman to open the season fourth in the order since 1990.
Sophomore outfielder Christin Stewart went 1-for-3 with a RBI in game one. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native, who led the UT rookies with a .310 batting average last season, exploded in the second game. He helped lead the Vols to a 20-run, 23-hit performance in a 20-2 blowout of the Boilermakers.
Tennessee put up four runs in the first inning, seven in the third, five in the fifth, three in the sixth and one in the eighth.
Including Stewart, seven Vols had multiple hits in the offensive outburst. Of the seven, four Vols had three or more hits, including Stewart (4), A.J. Simcox (3), David Houser (3) and Taylor Smart (3).
In his first start, the highly-touted Kyle Serrano picked up the first win of his young career in game two. With loads of offensive support, Serrano threw five strong innings against the Boilermakers. He allowed four hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out two.
Sophomores Andy Cox and Trevor Bettencourt both pitched two scoreless innings of relief, each allowing just one hit. As if the 20-2 margin wasn't enough, Bettencourt ended the night by striking out the side in the ninth inning.
Stewart finished the day a combined 5-for-8 at the plate with a team-high six RBIs and team-high tying four runs scored. Stewart laced two doubles and a triple over the two games. Simcox was right behind him with five hits, while Houser went 4-for-8 with five RBIs.
Tennessee and Purdue will wrap things up on Monday afternoon. First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 4 p.m. with sophomore Andrew Lee making his first career start for the Vols.
"I think maybe the biggest game of the year is tomorrow," said Serrano. "When you win a game lopsided like we did tonight, tomorrow's a mentality day, it's a discipline day and the game's not going to be easy. Purdue has some pride and they're going to try to come out and sniper us in the third game of the series."