Tennessee bounces back with win over Marshall

Tennessee beat Marshall behind Jordan Rodgers and a strong showing from the bullpen.

KNOXVILLE, TN - MARCH 22, 2017 - #14 Pete Derkay of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Marshall Thundering Herd and the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By John Golliher/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee bounced back from its forgetful conference-opening series on Wednesday night by scoring seven unanswered runs to defeat Marshall 7-1.

The Vols’ pitching staff led the way against the Thundering Herd (10-8, 2-1 C-USA), only allowing one runs on three hits.

Tennessee (13-5, 0-3 SEC) relied on “Johnny Wholestaff,” as head coach Dave Serrano rolled with five different pitchers. Sophomore Daniel Vasquez received the start, going three innings and giving up one run, three hits and striking out four. Freshman Connor Darling relieved Vasquez in the fourth, pitching two scoreless innings and striking out one, while not allowing a hit. Darling picked up his first career win.

“I thought we competed really well and I thought the bullpen threw really well,” Serrano said following the game. “I liked the way we pitched.”

Junior Kyle Serrano entered in the sixth, working a 1-2-3 inning and striking out two. Will Heflin worked two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth inning before Jon Lipinski closed out the game with a scoreless ninth inning.

Marshall struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on an RBI single up the middle from center fielder Shane Hanon.

The Herd’s lead didn’t last long, as Tennessee struck for two runs in the bottom of the third. Shortstop Max Bartlett got things going with one out, smacking a double to right center. In the very next at-bat, center fielder Brodie Leftridge doubled to right center to score Bartlett and tie the game up at 1-1. Third baseman Jordan Rodgers then gave the Vols a 2-1 lead on a double down the left-field line to score Leftridge.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Rodgers got things going with a leadoff double. After Rodgers advanced to third on a groundout to second, catcher Pete Derkay laced an RBI single through the right side to extend Tennessee’s lead to 3-1.

Rodgers got things going once again in the eighth inning with single. Freshman Andre Lipcius followed with a single up the middle to score Rodgers from second to extend Tennessee’s lead to 4-1. With the bases loaded, Dom Thornton hit a double down the left field line to clear the bases and give the Vols’ a 7-1 lead.

“I just tried to get a good pitch and drive it,” Thornton said. “It turned out good for me.”

Rodgers drove in his 16th RBI of the season Wednesday with a 3-for-3 hitting performance.  The senior has now hit safely in six consecutive games and reached base safely in 17 consecutive games.

“Winning is fun,” Rodgers said after Wednesday’s game. In preparation for another series, he added, “We need to minimize the damage. Not stranding baserunners, making some big pitches and making some big plays on defense.”

The Vols travel to Starkville this weekend for a three-game series with Mississippi State (12-10, 0-3 SEC) starting on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Game two of the series is set for 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, and the series finale is set for 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by John Golliher, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics