March 10, 2010
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Around the Bases
Volunteers spring past
By Jimmy Jones
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
(photos by Jimmy Jones)
Tenn.---Spring revealed itself in all its glory with bright
sunshine, comfortable temperatures and crystal blue skies
Wednesday afternoon topped off by the great American past time
when the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and Tennessee Volunteers
took center stage in front of 2,442 fans at Reese Smith Field.
The two teams put on quite a battle, exchanging the lead on four
occasions before UT pulled the game out with four runs in the
eighth to prevail 8-6.
The Volunteers (7-6) scored first as P. J. Polk opened the game
with a walk, stole second and was plated on an RBI single by
Raider centerfielder Bryce Brentz (left) tied the game with one
swing on a towering fly ball off Vol starter Rob Catapano
(above) that cleared the left field fence in the bottom half of
The score remained tied until the third when Brentz struck
again, this time on a ball that left the stadium in centerfield
to give MTSU (8-4) a 2-1 lead. The home run was the 51st of the
junior All American's career and ties him with Rawley Bishop as
the all-time leader in school history.
Left fielder Will Skinner got into the long ball act with a solo
drive over the left-centerfield wall to give the Blue and White
a 3-1 lead in the fourth. MTSU scored again when Justin Miller
reached on an error, moved over on a bunt single by Ryan Ford
and scored on a throwing error.
Blue Raider freshman hurler Hunter Adkins made the most of his
start by going five innings allowing just three runs on three
hits. The right-hander finished with five strikeouts and left
with a 4-3 lead.
"Hunter Adkins is going to be a very good pitcher," said MTSU
coach Steve Peterson. "I thought he had good stuff and dominated
their lineup when he was in the strike zone.
"He kept himself in trouble getting his pitch count up and if he
had kept it down he might have made it to the sixth. I wasn't
going to run him past there and get his pitch count way up."
With senior Tyler Hyde on the mound in relief of Adkins,
Tennessee scored two runs in the fifth when Matt Duffy was hit
by a pitch to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a
double into left field by Zach Osborne.
Khayyan Norfork followed with a base hit to deep short to score
Duffy and advance Osborne to third.
(right) picked up an RBI with a fly ball to score Osborne to
pull the Vols to within 4-3.
Tennessee tied the game in the seventh when Osborne scored on a
wild pitch. MTSU came right back to retake the lead on a
Robertson double. He scored on a one-out hit by pinch-hitter
Stuart Meinhart in their half.
"We battled really well today," UT head coach Todd Raleigh said.
"Every time they got up on us, we were able to answer the bell.
In a weird way, I thought this was our best game of the year,
just because of how we kept responding.
"Yesterday (loss to Western Kentucky) was a tough one to take,
but those things happen and I thought we've been more productive
offensively over the last few days than we have been over the
past few weeks.
"We did a great job running the bases and getting some timely
hits, so I really feel like this is something that can get us
going a little bit. We're really just starting to figure out our
personal identity as a team and I'm really proud of the guys
The visitors put the game away with four runs in the eighth,
with the big blow being a two-run homer off the bat of Charley
Thurber after MTSU was unable to field a bunt.
"I thought Tennessee outplayed us on the mound and played
excellent small ball," said Peterson. "They get the bunt down
and after a double laid another bunt down and we don't get an
"Our third baseman, catcher and pitcher miscommunicated and you
have got to get an out there. It’s one thing to execute a bunt
but you have to get an out. That led to extra runners on base
which in turn led to runs."
took the loss after allowing four runs on three hits in
one-third of an inning of work.
Steve Crnkovich (2-0) picked up the win for the Volunteers with
five innings of three-hit ball in relief. He allowed two runs on
three hits while striking out two. He did not walk a batter.
MTSU hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Friday at 6.
Tennessee returns to Knoxville to host the Arby's Classic with
Connecticut, Marshall and 17th-ranked Ohio State participating.