Tennessee defeats Georgia to earn first SEC win

Tennessee staved off a late rally from Georgia to earn its first SEC win of the season over the Bulldogs.

#14 Pete Derkay of the Vols baseball team. Photo taken on March 31, 2017. Image by Amanda Izzi, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee (15-8, 1-6 SEC) hit its way to a 6-5 win over Georgia (11-16, 1-6 SEC) on Friday night despite a late rally from the Bulldogs.

“It was good for our players,” Serrano said postgame. “Getting that first (SEC) win was big for them.”

“I’m happy for our guys. I heard them say in the huddle it’s a big monkey off their back and now we get to win a series tomorrow and that hasn’t happened in a while.”

In the Vols’ first SEC win of the season, Hunter Martin led the way with a dominant performance on the mound. Martin pitched seven innings, only giving up one run, two walks and striking out seven. The senior is now 4-2 on the season with a 3.10 ERA.

“I thought Hunter Martin was tremendous through seven innings,” Serrano said. “I thought his changeup was really good. He made fastball pitches to areas when he had to. We snuck in the breaking ball that made them off-balance.”

The Vols jumped out an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI double from catcher Benito Santiago, allowing Jeff Moberg to score from second.

Georgia tied things up at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning on an RBI single from first baseman Mitchell Webb.

Tennessee’s offense began to roll in the sixth and seventh inning, scoring five runs.

Jordan Rodgers got things going in the bottom of the sixth, singling to right with one out. After stealing second, Rodgers advanced to third on a sac fly from Santiago. With Rodgers on third, Andre Lipcius singled up the middle, giving Tennessee a 2-1 lead. Dom Thornton then extended the Vols’ lead to 3-1 on an RBI single to center, scoring Lipcius. At the end of six innings, Tennessee led Georgia 4-1 after a Max Bartlett RBI single.

Moberg led the bottom of the seventh inning off with a powerful home run over the left field fence, extending Tennessee’s lead to 5-1.  Later in the inning, Lipcius then drove in his second run of the game on a triple to right center, scoring Justin Ammons from second. At the end of seven, the Vols led the Bulldogs 6-1.

Lipcius finished 3-of-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.

The Vols’ senior second baseman finished 3-of-5 with a home run, an RBI and two runs scored. Moberg’s homer was his team-leading sixth of the season.

Kyle Serrano relieved Martin in the eighth, but only faced two batters before exiting the game with a trainer. Coach Serrano wasn’t overly concerned with the injury, but said that he doesn’t want to push the envelope with his son due to his injury history.

Andrew Schultz relieved Kyle Serrano, pitching one inning and giving up three runs and two walks. Schultz worked himself into a sticky situation in the ninth, prompting the entrance of senior Jon Lipinski. With Lipinski in the game, Georgia cut the Tennessee lead to 6-5, prompting Dave Serrano to make another change. Senior Zach Warren entered and, with one pitch, ended the game and the Bulldog threat.

Tennessee takes on Georgia in game two of the series on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET. The Vols look to win their first SEC series of the season with freshman Garrett Stallings on the mound.

Edited by Robert Hughes

Featured image by Amanda Izzi, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

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