Tennessee opened their 2017 baseball season with a literal bang on Friday against the Memphis Tigers.
In an 8-5 win the Vols had 10 hits, everyone for Tennessee that took the field except Brodie Leftridge and Matt Waldren accounted for at least one hit. The Vols jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first and posted a game altering inning in the top of the fourth inning.
Tennessee batted in five runs on six hits, pretty much putting Memphis out of it before it even really began. The Tigers attempted to mount a comeback, actually out hitting the Vols with 11 hits in the game. However, they only conjured up five runs on those 11 hits.
Tennessee got a lot of production out of everyone, but a few players deserve specific mention.
Hunter Martin who is a Top 50 rated reliever nationally, actually started the game and was dominant through four innings. He had thrown only 51 pitches while allowing just one unearned run and striking out five batters. Martin had his “cleanest inning” in the bottom of the fourth. This was after the Vols huge performance in the top of the fourth.
Martin was a reliever last year due to injuries and that is why he is rated Top 50 reliever alongside fellow pitcher Kyle Serrano, whom we didn’t see used in game 1 of the season. Vols head coach Dave Serrano when asked about starting Martin said “he has earned the right to be a starting pitcher in this program.”
Serrano added, “that is just someone’s opinion,” when speaking on the Top 50 ranking.
After Martin was pulled due to a pitch count Serrano has his pitching staff on, freshmen Garrett Stallings and Will Heflin as well as sophomore Daniel Vasquez dominated the rest of the game. At one point each man coming up with critical strikeouts with men on base to cut off rallies by the Tigers. Heflin impressively even at one point struck out two straight, which all but closed the door on any thoughts of a comeback by the Tigers.
Jeff Moberg also deserves a mention. He displayed a knack for getting on base pulling out a .800 OBP on two hits out of his three at bats. Plus twice getting hit by a pitch due to his aggressive stance and plate crowding. Moberg would also account for four of UT’s eight runs on two RBI’s and crossing home himself twice.
Despite all of the success Serrano says that he is “never satisfied,” with their effort.
He was happy to see a lot of guys get their feet wet and didn’t shy away from saying these kinds of games are why he schedules tough opponents. He feels his teams learn more from a game like this than a blowout.
Tennessee will play the second of the three game series at FedExPark against the Memphis Tigers Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and the series will wrap up on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.