Sunday was a disappointing end to a disappointing weekend for the Tennessee baseball team.
Freshman right fielder Vincent Jackson makes a diving catch during UT's 19-2 loss to No. 11 South Carolina on Sunday in Knoxville. The Gamecocks swept the Vols in a three-game series in Lindsey Nelson Stadium. (UT photo)
A mammoth solo home run from junior catcher Ethan Bennett was practically the only home-side highlight in a 19-2 loss to 11th-ranked South Carolina on Sunday in Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Coach Dave Serrano was candid with reporters after the blowout loss, saying he was “embarrassed” for anyone who had ever played for the UT program, because the current product on the field — for which he claimed to take full responsibility — hasn’t been good enough. The Vols have been much more competitive in Serrano’s second second with the program, but the win-loss record in SEC play certainly hasn’t reflected that.
Here’s a full recap of the game, courtesy of the UT sports information department.
VOLS DROP SERIES FINALE TO NO. 11 GAMECOCKS
Junior catcher Ethan Bennett blasted a tape-measure shot for Tennessee, but it wasn't nearly enough.
No. 11 South Carolina finished off the weekend sweep of the Vols with a 19-2 victory on Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Tennessee coach Dave Serrano was candid with reporters after the disappointing loss.
UT senior pitcher Zack Godley (UT photo)
"We're not where we're supposed to be according to plan to be honest with you," Serrano said. "For anyone that has ever worn this uniform and represented this university, I apologize and I'm embarrassed for where we are at right now compared to where we should be. I take full responsibility for that.
"I took on this challenge to get this program to where it is supposed to be and we're not taking the strides that are even close to where I want it to be. We need to, as a coaching staff, reevaluate how we're doing things, how we're saying things because something's not translating for our guys to understand what direction that we need to be, to look across the field and play like a team like South Carolina that will continue with its success."
With 2,637 on hand on a sunny Sunday afternoon, a total of 8,201 clicked the turnstiles in Knoxville for the weekend, making the series against the Gamecocks the highest attended of the season.
The Vols managed just six hits all afternoon while South Carolina pounded out its 19 runs on 21 hits, scoring multiple runs in six of their eight trips to the plate, including a seven-spot in the top of the ninth.
On a pitch count coming off of an injury, South Carolina starter Jordan Montgomery fired four shutout innings before handing the ball off to Colby Holmes, who pitched the final five innings. Holmes improved to 4-2 after allowing just two runs — just one earned — on two hits while striking out three.
UT senior ace Zack Godley — who was moved from Friday to Sunday in this weekend’s adjusted rotation — fell to 2-4 on the season after allowing eight runs on 12 hits while striking out four in six-plus innings.
"It's hard to fault Zack because that guy, he may not perform well for us all the time, but gosh darn that guy is going out and giving his all for us every time," Serrano said.
The Gamecocks raced out to a 6-0 lead with two runs in each of the second, fourth and fifth innings before Bennett finally got the Vols on the scoreboard. He blasted a 1-1 slider from Holmes completely out of the stadium and onto the road behind "The Porch" out in left field.
South Carolina answered by putting two more tallies on the board in the sixth. Tennessee then scored its only other run of the game on a two-out RBI single to left by junior second baseman Taylor Smart in the seventh before the Gamecocks exploded for 11 unanswered runs in the final two innings.
Tennessee will look to return to the win column on Tuesday when it opens a five-game road trip at East Tennessee State in Johnson City. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. EDT.
"We have to move on," Serrano said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing Tuesday, it's about us playing good baseball. That's what I want to see. I want to see us play good baseball and it'd be nice to get out of this funk because it's not going to get any easier. I told the team [after] a couple balls were blooped over our infielders, I said that I am a big believer in the baseball gods and I think the baseball gods are really testing us right now to see how much we can endure until we finally step up and become tougher to overcome this and start finding a way to get things done."