Tennessee’s bats never woke up on Friday night, as the Vols (9-2) lost to Cincinnati (6-6), 2-1, in the first game of the three-game series.
Bearcats’ junior third baseman Connor McVey led things off with a solo homer in the top of the first inning, giving Cincinnati an early 1-0 lead. McVey finished 2-of-3 with an RBI and a walk.
Tennessee catcher Benito Santiago followed suit in the bottom of the second inning, smashing a solo home run of his own and tying the game up at 1-1. Santiago’s homer was his third of the season, a single-season high for the junior.
RHP Hunter Martin (3-1) received the start for Tennessee on Friday night. Martin pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs, giving up seven hits, walking two and striking out six. The senior received the loss, his first of the season.
In the top of the fifth inning, Cincinnati took a 2-1 lead with Jace Mercer scored from third on a fielder’s choice. The run would prove to be the game winner.
Junior Kyle Serrano was one of the lone bright spots for the Vols against Cincinnati, relieving Martin in the seventh inning and striking out the side. It was Serrano’s first appearance for Tennessee since facing Memphis in Chattanooga on Feb 20, 2016. Friday night marked his 2017 debut after missing last season due to Tommy John surgery.
Daniel Vasquez would pitch the eighth and ninth innings in relief for Tennessee. Vasquez didn’t allow a run on two hits as he struck out four.
While the bats were kept quiet, Tennessee’s pitching staff was dominant, striking out 13.
Tennessee threatened in the bottom of the ninth inning. Vols’ freshman Pete Derkay and Will Heflin both reached on base hits setting up runners on first and second with two outs. Pinch-hitter Luc Lipcius followed with a groundout to third to end the threat and the game.
Vols’ senior second baseman Jeff Moberg finished 2-of-4, while third baseman Jordan Rodgers finished 1-of-4. Santiago would finish 1-of-3 at the plate with a run scored, a run driven in and a walk.
Due to expected inclement weather in the Knoxville area on Sunday afternoon, game three of the series has been moved to Saturday. Tennessee and Cincinnati will now play a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. The first game of the doubleheader is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. ET. Game two of the doubleheader will begin approximately 45 minutes after game one concludes.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Austin Perryman, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics