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Offense leads Tennessee to win over UNC Asheville

2390 days ago
Tennessee Athletics
Photo: Tennessee Athletics

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Tennessee used a balanced offensive attack and took advantage of nine walks to defeat UNC Asheville, 7-3, at historic McCormick Field on Tuesday night.

With the win, the Volunteers move to 24-7 in the all-time series vs. UNC Asheville and are now 11-5 to start the 2016 season.

Tennessee's offense was quick and disciplined in the first inning, as the Vols loaded the bases twice to score two runs against the Bulldogs. Senior Jeff Moberg (4-for-5, 4 R) got things started with a leadoff double to left field before back-to-back free passes granted to Chris Hall (2-for-4, 2 R, RBI) and Nick Senzel (0-for-1, 4 BB) loaded the bases. An RBI-single by Vincent Jackson (2-for-3, 4 RBI) and sac fly from Jordan Rodgers (1-for-4, RBI) then made it a 2-0 ballgame in favor of UT.

The Vols went on to push single runs across in the second and fourth innings, both scored by Moberg, to make it a 4-0 Tennessee advantage.

The Bulldogs scratched two runs on the board in the sixth, trimming Tennessee's lead to 4-2 before the Vols struck back in the seventh. With one out, pinch-runner Benito Santiago entered for pinch-hitter Bryant Harris at first and took second on a passed ball. Shortstop Max Bartlett (2-for-4, RBI) then ripped an RBI-single through the right side, scoring Santiago to cushion UT's lead at 5-2.

UNC Asheville inched forward in the seventh to make it a two-run ballgame before Tennessee's offense opened the gates again in the eighth. With runners on first and second, Senzel drew his fourth walk of the game to load the bases. Cleanup hitter Jackson then ripped a two-run single through the right side to put UT ahead, 7-3.

In his first career start for the Orange and White, righthander Eric Freeman worked 3.0 scoreless innings against UNC Asheville and struck out three of his 13 batters faced.

In relief, junior Hunter Martin threw 2.0 scoreless frames, retiring five straight batters between the fourth and fifth innings. Righty Richard Jackson allowed two runs on two hits before freshman Will Neely was called upon in the sixth, who went on to toss 3.0 innings of one-run ball with three strikeouts. Senior Steven Kane closed it out for Tennessee in the ninth, striking out the Bulldogs' final batter to secure the win.

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Vol Baseball Quick Hits

Tuesday's contest at McCormick Field marked Tennessee's first time to play in Asheville since 2003.

Entering Tuesday's game, Jeff Moberg was T-2nd in the NCAA for most runs scored this season with 24. Following the game vs. UNC Asheville, Moberg now has 28 runs scored.

Moberg's four runs scored vs. the Bulldogs tie his single-game high (also, Feb. 28 vs. Central Michigan).

Nick Senzel drew four walks vs. UNC Asheville, furthering his team lead to 18 on the year.

Designated hitter and Asheville native Dominick Cammarata (0-for-3) drew his first career start vs. the Bulldogs.

Tuesday's attendance at McCormick Field: 2,153

Up Next for the Vols: The Big Orange will host SEC rival Ole Miss Rebels (15-1) the this weekend (March 18-20) for the Opening Weekend of Southeastern Conference play, with each game available for viewing via SEC Network + broadcast. Game One of the three-game series begins Friday, March 18 at 7 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.