The Tennessee baseball team beat No. 16 East Carolina on Saturday night by a score of 5-2, improving to a 7-2 record in its early non-conference schedule.
It was a game that coach Dave Serrano called an “SEC-type game,” and Tennessee did not back down from the challenge. Starting pitcher Zach Warren was lights out once again for the Vols. Warren went 6.2 strong innings, giving up eight hits but limiting that damage to two earned runs. Both of those runs came in the 7th inning when he was removed.
Tennessee had its work cut out, facing lefty Jacob Wolfe, who had yet to give up a run this season. The Vols capitalized on some early mistakes, scoring three in the top of the first. Leadoff hitter Jeff Moberg got on base thanks to a throwing error and later scored on a Nick Senzel single. 1B Jordan Rodgers knocked in Chris Hall, who also singled, to make it 2-0. Later in the inning, Catcher Tyler Schultz reached on another throwing error, allowing Senzel to score the third run.
Lefty Starting Pitcher Zach Warren found himself in some trouble early. The Sophomore walked two in the top of the first, loading the bases with just one out. Warren found a way to get out of trouble, striking out one and getting a ground out to end the inning unscathed. Warren made a habit of these great escapes, stranding nine batters in 6.2 innings of work. Despite giving up one more earned run than his counterpart, Warren got his third win of the year.
Following another throwing error that allowed Nick Senzel to reach base, East Carolina gave up another unearned run by way of a Jordan Rodgers sacrifice fly, giving Tennessee a 4-0 advantage. The Pirates would answer. A two run double from 3B clean-up hitter Eric Tyler cut the Tennessee lead in half, ending Warren’s day after 104 pitches.
The Volunteer bullpen would take over from there. The duo of Steven Kane and Closer Jon Lipinski did not allow a hit in 2.1 innings of shutout baseball. After stealing second and third, third-baseman Nick Senzel added an insurance run in the top of the 8th, sealing a victory for Tennessee on the road at the Keith LeClair Classic, hosted by East Carolina.
Coach Dave Serrano was pleased with his guys after the game. “That was a great college baseball game,” Serrano said. “Two really great left-handed pitchers going toe to toe, it just became who was going to endure the most and our guys did.”
Serrano praised East Carolina as a team that “has a chance to play in Omaha,” adding, “we’re starting to prove to ourselves that we have the capability of winning games like this.” Saturday’s win followed a close 10-9 loss to Maryland the night before, where UT saw its comeback attempt fall short despite two runs in the ninth inning.
The Vols wrap up the Keith LeClair Classic on Sunday, starting RHP Hunter Martin (1-0) on the hill at 11 a.m. ET to face Southeastern Louisiana.