Tennessee rolls past Norfolk State 10-2 in home opener

The Volunteers improved to 7-1 after defeating Norfolk State in the team’s 2017 home opener.

KNOXVILLE, TN - MARCH 03, 2017 - The Tennessee Volunteers baseball team huddles after the game between the Norfolk State Spartans and the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Austin Perryman/Tennessee Athletics

Senior pitcher Hunter Martin took the mount for the Vols in their first home game of the season. Although Martin got off to a rough start, he eventually settled down and helped Tennessee (7-1) earn a 10-2 victory over Norfolk State on Friday afternoon.

The win marked the sixth straight game the Vols scored at least eight runs, but it wasn’t easy for the orange and white initially. Tennessee didn’t record a hit until the third inning when Jordan Rodgers blasted a two-run home run. The Vols added insult to injury when junior catcher Benito Santiago hit a home run of his own to deep right field.

Martin had a consistent night overall and only faltered in the third inning when he allowed two runs. Martin finished the game with eight strikeouts. Tennessee managed to keep its foot on the pedal in the fifth inning when senior infielder Jeff Moburg hit a long ball that struck the new jumbotron in right-center field. Santiago also reached home on a fielder’s choice RBI from freshman infielder Andre Lupcius.

The inning that put the nail in the coffin of the Norfolk State Spartans was the seventh inning. Rodgers tallied his second home run of the night and defensive substitution senior Matt Waldren drove in two runs off of an error that helped him reach third base. Then, Waldren was driven in by infielder Max Bartlett to end the huge inning for the Vols.

Freshmen pitchers Garrett Stallings and Andrew Schultz closed out the game for the Vols. They surrendered no runs and combined to record five strikeouts.

“Hunter gave us six good innings,” Vols head coach Dave Serrano said. “We brought Stallings in to keep the pace on our side and I think our fans got to see the future with Andrew Schultz. He’s pretty special.”

Tennessee had games last year where they drove in runs early but were unable deliver the final blow. However, the Vols managed to put the nail in the coffin early in the seventh inning.

“I think a big difference is the freshmen, I think we’ve all gotten a little bit stronger,” Rodgers said. “And we’re coming in with leads and not really worried about keeping them because we’re confident in our defense.”

Tennessee has seen big play out of its freshmen lately. On Friday, the Vols featured two freshmen in their starting lineup in outfielders Justin Ammons and Lipcius. The two combined for two hits and three runs.

Tennessee plays Norfolk State again tomorrow for the second game in the three-game series. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. ET.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image by Austin Perryman, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics