Diamond Vols sweep Alcorn State
By Will Estep | (email@example.com)
KNOXVILLE — The third and final game of the weekend series against Alcorn State went just about the same way the first two did. UT’s bats generated double-digit runs and with solid pitching on Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, Tennessee picked up a 12-4 win to earn a three-game sweep over the Braves.
Aaron Quillen (W, 1-1) took the start and allowed four runs on five hits and struck out seven batters in six innings of work for the Vols (7-7).
“I thought it was a great quality start for us, just like he did last Sunday,” Tennessee manager Dave Serrano said. “He could have kept going to be honest with you. It wasn’t that he was faltering at all, I just wanted to get some guys some work and felt comfortable with making that move.
“I am very happy with the way he is throwing the ball and he has continued to get better each and every start.”
Quillen gave up three hits and four runs in the fourth frame, but allowed Tennessee to hold onto the lead by bouncing back with strong pitching in the fifth and sixth inning as the Kingsport native allowed Alcorn (2-15) only one hit over his final two frames.
“I just regained some focus,” Quillen said. “In the fourth inning, I was falling off the mound and losing my mechanics. The fifth and sixth, I just stayed within myself and trusted coach Serrano, trusted the catcher, and I just got things done.”
Quillen gave up four runs in the fourth, but Serrano thought the inning wasn’t all on the freshman right-hander.
“I thought that was more of a team problem than an Aaron Quillen problem to be honest,” Serrano said. “If you think back to that inning, they hit one ball out of the infield and they scored four runs.”
Quillen got an early 7-0 lead after three innings with help from a four-run first inning off Alcorn State starter Joseph Camp (L, 0-1). Tennessee’s only first-inning hit was an Andrew Lee RBI double that scored Taylor Smart, but patience at the plate allowed Serrano’s team to score three runs off two bases loaded walks and one hit by pitch in the inning.
“It was good discipline,” Serrano said. “We were taking what they were giving us and it led to some runs early, which always makes it easier to play defense and pitch behind.”
Alcorn State only trailed 7-4 heading into the bottom of the eight when Tennessee’s bats rose to the occasion for a five-run inning.
Third baseman Will Maddox, designated hitter Andrew Lee, outfielders Pierce Bily and Christian Stewart and pinch hitter Jeff Moberg all drove in Tennessee base runners to give the Vols a commanding 12-4 lead.
Tennessee scored six of their 12 runs with two outs on the board.
“That’s kind of been our M.O. a lot through this year so far,” Serrano said. “We have had a lot of two-out RBIs. The thing we haven’t done, we got one today, we haven’t had a lot of sacrifice flies with runners in scoring position.”
After Quillen left the contest, three Tennessee pitchers came out of the bullpen for each of the final three innings. Freshmen Andy Cox and Trevor Bettencourt along with junior Nick Williams combined to give up only one hit in three innings of relief work as Tennessee got back to a .500 winning percentage.