It’s evident that Tennessee has a young and talented baseball team.
The team dealt with adversity head on here Saturday and while it looked as if the Vols wouldn’t be victorious, UT found a way to pull out a dramatic 7-6 come from behind win in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Volunteers were without their team leader first baseman Cody Hawn, who injured and dislocated his left throwing shoulder in the team’s season opener.
“We missed Cody being in the lineup today,” Coach Todd Raleigh said after his team rallied to win a one point game against Xavier. “He brings so much to this team. The younger players look up to him.”
It was a younger player, true freshman Cody Stubbs that replaced Hawn in the line up to get his first collegiate start at first. He started in Friday’s game as the team’s designated hitter.
“It was great, it was awesome,” Stubbs said. “Everyone ones to do that, but you never know when it’s going to happen. You have to rally back and have heart. If you don’t get done once, you have to get it done the next opportunity, luckily it worked out.”
Replacing Hawn, a Pre-Season All-American and the team’s returning hitter from a year ago isn’t something easily done.
“Cody Hawn is Cody Hawn,” Stubbs admitted. “It’s hard to match Cody Hawn, I just wanted to do my best and help this team win.”
CALLING FOR BACKUP
In Friday’s opener the bullpen struggled at times, that wasn’t the case Saturday.
Three pitchers came out of the bullpen Saturday to give starter Steven Gruver relief. Out of the three, only one earned run was given up.
Steve Crnkovich was the first relief pitcher; he gave up the only earned run. He pitched for two innings, giving up four hits, walking one and striking out one of the 10 batters he faced.
Spencer Clift also pitched two innings, giving up just one hit, no runs, facing just seven batters. He had no walks and no strike outs.
Will Locante was impressive in his one inning of relief, picking up the win. He faced three batters and got all three out to set up the opportunity for the win.
“The bullpen did its job today,” Raleigh admitted. “They kept us in it and gave us a chance in the end.”
LEAVING MEN STRANDED
Tennessee left seven runs stranded on base, including a bases loaded situation in the eighth.
Centerfielder Josh Liles continues to do well at the plate. He had three hits at four times at bat, striking out once and produced two R.B.I’s. He is currently batting .667 for the season.
Leftfielder P.J. Polk also finished the game with three hits out of four times at bat. He had one walk; three doubles and is currently batting .750 for the season.
DEFENSIVE PLAYS OF THE GAME
One great catch at the right field wall comes to mind by right fielder and true freshman Chris Fritts.
Third baseman Matt Duffy has a great defensive effort on a hard hit down the line; he scooped the ball and made the throw.
The Xavier pitchers did a great job early on in the early innings keeping what was a very offensive team on Friday off balanced on Saturday.
“That pitcher was great,” Raleigh said. “He was throwing in the low 90’s and he did a good job against us.”
All-American candidate Blake Forsyth, one of the leading hitters from last year is currently having an early slump. He is currently batting .167 for the two day season.
“Blake is having some difficulties, but we feel good about what he is going to do for us,” Raleigh said. “He will be strong for us. So things will get better, he really battled well at times today for us.”
CODY HAWN UPDATE
According to Raleigh, Hawn dislocated his left shoulder in the freak accident on the field Friday evening. "According to the MRI there is no damage," Raleigh said. "He is currently in a sling, it's deeply bruised from coming out of the socket. He won't play this weekend. From there it will be day to day, depending on how he responds to treatment."