While one tough inning and an early deficit was enough to keep the Tennessee Volunteers at bay in past games, Wednesday night was different.
Only two innings mattered on the board and the Vols ultimately came out on top with a 10-5 win over the Western Carolina Catamounts. Head coach Dave Serrano said the midweek game was a big win for the team, boosting confidence levels and giving his team a chance to realize that they can always get the win, regardless of the score.
"I don't think there was anything more needed than that," Serrano said. "...The tendency when you start to lose and you start questioning yourself is your confidence level goes down and I think this group needed something positive to happen and it couldn't have happened at a better time."
Western Carolina entered the game with an agenda, taking a 5-0 lead in the second and putting the Vols in a must-score position in the third.
Freshman right-hander Aaron Quillen could not stop the Catamounts' onslaught, and when the Vols failed to respond in the bottom of the second, it looked like the team would not be making the much-needed comeback necessary for a win.
"The feeling in the dugout that I got was 'Oh no, here we go again,' when they put the five on the board," Serrano said. "I give our guys a ton of credit because they could have easily have said, 'Well, it's not our day again', and 'This could get ugly.'"
The pendulum swung Tennessee's way when it managed a stop in the top of the third, thanks to freshman pitcher Trevor Charpie, who pitched six scoreless innings in relief.
"That was huge. Trevor's outing was huge for us," Serrano said. "Never in my wildest dreams when I went into today's game plan did I think he would go as many innings as he did, but that outing for him was big for us, and more importantly for him as well."
In the bottom of the third, sophomore Parker Wormsley came to the plate to leadoff an inning that no one could have expected. Wormsley worked his way to second with the help of sophomore Will Maddox, but both Maddox and freshman Jeff Moberg failed to reach base.Junior infielder Scott Price hit a double to left field and sending Wormsley home, giving the Vols their first run of the night, and putting a run on the board. It was 5-1 with two outs, a man on second and six innings left to play.
But the Vols decided they only needed one inning to clinch the win. Hit after hit moved player after player to first, second, third and home. The Vols scored nine runs that inning, taking the 9-5 lead and never let go.
"It was pretty special," junior Pierce Bily said. "Nine hits in a row, I've never seen anything like it. It was pretty sweet to be a part of it."
The two big innings took place early and zeros filled the scoreboard until the Vols managed an insurance run in the eighth. While Serrano was happy with the defense, he felt the team could learn offensively to keep fighting even when they're ahead.
"We talk about winning innings. We won one big inning and they won one big inning and we won an inning when we put a one on the board, but we need to do that more," Serrano said. "We need to win more frames throughout a game. I'm satisfied with the win, but we can't have those lulls in games like we tend to do."
The Vols week is not over. A tough SEC matchup against Missouri is set to begin Friday at 6 p.m. in Knoxville.