Golden Eagles starting pitcher Seth Lucio pitched 8.1 scoreless innings and struck out 11 batters as Tennessee Tech dominated Tennessee Tuesday night, 5-1. The Diamond Vols have lost 6-of-9 — including three straight — since their 7-0 start.
“The frustration is mounting,” UT coach Dave Serrano said. “Definitely within the coaching staff, I’m sure it is on the players’ faces.”
Conner Stevens kept Tennessee within striking distance in his first start on the mound, only allowing one run and three hits in three innings. The lone run came off a solo home run by Zach Stephens in the second inning.
Serrano pulled his starter from the mound to start the fourth inning to bring in T.J. Thornton, but the decision would hurt the Diamond Vols.
UT ended up making five pitching changes after benching Stevens, but the next five relievers allowed four runs, putting the game away.
In the sixth inning, shortly after fouling the ball off his knee, Golden Eagles third baseman Michael Morris belted a line drive up the middle, bringing in teammate Zephan Guyear and extending the TTU lead to 2-0.  The inning wasn’t over as Evan Frazier blasted another Golden Eagle single into left field, bringing Morris home and giving Tennessee Tech a 3-0 lead.
Despite only a three-run deficit, Serrano noticed the players looked defeated, especially when he pulled Saberhagen in the top of the seventh.
“In a midweek game, if we won’t have the mentality to recover from 3-0, then we don’t deserve to win,” Serrano said. “I’ll take full responsibility; we’ve got to find another gear. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy; it’s never going to be easy.”
Will Maddox tried to keep the Vols alive with a 3-for-3 performance with two singles, a double and a walk. The second baseman’s first hit of the game kept his eight-game hitting streak alive.
“I’m going to throw in Jared Allen, too,” Serrano said of the Vols’ hitting performance. “The at-bats that Jared and Will gave us were indicative of experienced players. They fought, they clawed, and that’s really all that we’re asking of our guys. We never ask them to get hits, we just ask them to get quality at-bats.”
Still, with conference play beginning this weekend with a three-game series at Georgia, the left-handed batter believes the coaches have prepared them, but it’s up to the players to step up.
“The coaches have done everything in their power,” Maddox said. “They’ve gotten us ready to play, so if we go out and play the game we’ve been playing, we can beat anybody. But right now, we’re just not doing that. I think as a team, we just need to come together, trust each other and play harder than the other team.”