Vols hand No. 2 Wildcats first loss, drop series
On the arm of Zack Godly, the Vols defeated No. 2 Kentucky Friday night in a 4-to-1 rubber match.
Coming into the weekend Kentucky was riding a 22-game winning streak which stood as the longest in the nation. That is, until junior Zack Godly twirled eight stellar innings.
The weekend series between the Wildcats (25-1) and the Vols (13-10) hosted at Lindsey Nelson Stadium was opened in promising fashion for Tennessee.
Godly tied his career best performance throwing eight innings of three-hit baseball which was capped by the righty retiring 21 of the final 25 batters he faced. Not an easy task considering the Wildcats are the best-hitting team in the SEC.
"That was a good win," First year Vols’ head coach Dave Serrano said. "I'm not trying to minimize beating the last undefeated team but beating another opponent in the SEC and getting to .500. That's the way I look at it. We have to come out and play the next two games, Kentucky isn’t going to just roll over.”
And roll over they did not, taking the series and the next two contest from the Vols.
With freshman Brandon Zajac making his collegiate debut on Saturday, Vols’ pitchers surrendered six runs on 10 hits in a 6-2 UT loss.
A start delayed by inclement weather, Zajac put the Vols in an early hole allowing three runs in just 2.2 innings of work.
"We had some opportunities that we didn't come through on and to beat quality teams we have to do that," Serrano said. "We knew this was going to be a challenge. We have to accept the challenge and have more players accept the challenge.”
The Vols got off to a promising start in the series’ Sunday finale. Sophomore Nick Williams, in just his second ever career start, tossed four innings of scoreless ball that allowed just one Kentucky hit – putting the righty at 10.1 consecutive scoreless innings proceeded by his last start against the No. 15 ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
In the Vols 6-0 Sunday loss, UT pitchers held the SEC’s top hitting team to a mere .211 batting average – far strayed from the previous team average of .375.
Despite fantastic pitching, Vols bats were silent when it mattered most. Tennessee only etched four hits against the Wildcats on Sunday, all of which were singles. Adding to the dismal day at the plate, the Vols went 0-for-11 with runners on base.
On the other side, the Wildcats were productive, scoring six runs on six hits on their way to taking the series W.
The Vols will return to action when they host against Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.