In a low-scoring pitcher’s duel, Tennessee found a way to score all it needed to, defeating No. 2 Georgia, 2-0, on Thursday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
These are the key takeaways from tonight’s game:
Garrett Crochet impressive on the mound
Garrett Crochet got his first start of the year—due to Will Neely’s injury—and he was able to capitalize on the opportunity, but it was not without some work.
Georgia was able to pick up seven hits on the left-handed sophomore through his five innings pitched. The Bulldogs also got a runner into scoring position in four of the five innings against Crochet. However, some timely pitching and strikeouts got Crochet out of some jams, as he did not allow Georgia to score.
“I felt good, just trying to get my team as far as I could so we could give it off to the relievers,” Crochet said. “I was just trying to keep the team off balance, and keep them from scoring runs.”
Georgia’s best chance to get on the board was in the second inning. After Austin Biggar led off the inning with a leadoff double, Mason Meadows was hit by a pitch to give Georgia two runners on with no outs. However, as Crochet did all night, he was able to make the pitches he needed to when he needed to the most, striking out the next three Bulldogs.
“I was falling behind in some counts early, and then they would get some guys on and then I would go into more of an attack mode to try and fill up the zone,” Crochet said. “I have been looking forward to this since I found out I was starting, and I just wanted to see how I matchup against him (Hancock).”
The bullpen for Tennessee was just as impressive as Crochet. The first man out of the pen for the Vols was Andrew Schultz, who pitched two innings, only allowing one hit. Redmond Walsh came into the game for the eighth and was able to escape another Bulldog threat. Walsh would finish off the night to pick up the save and the shutout.
“We can trust him (Walsh) at the end of the game,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “With all those guys kind of evolving into what they are and capturing roles, it allows us to move Garrett into the role that we did. Redmond’s composure and poise is making other guys better, it’s not just helping us win games.”
This was Tennessee’s seventh shutout win of the season, the most since the 1994 team set a program-record with 10 shutouts.
Emerson Hancock impressive on the mound
Georgia’s Emerson Hancock came into Thursday’s game leading the SEC in ERA with an impressive 1.02 mark. The first time through the order, he looked as good as he had all season, retiring the first nine batters he faced.
“There were a lot of guys tonight that Hancock did not make them feel real good about themselves, and he can do that to people,” Vitello said. “He is incredible, he’s got stuff and pitch-ibility. Normally those dials don’t work together as seamlessly as they do for him, and then he also has presence.”
However, the second time through the order, Tennessee was able to find some success. Jay Charleston led off the bottom of the fourth with the first hit of the game for Tennessee, but the Vols were not able to capitalize. With one out in the inning, Charleston was caught stealing to end the possibility of Tennessee getting on the board.
Hancock would pitch the whole game for the Bulldogs, but would pick up the loss. Overall, Hancock threw all eight innings, allowing two runs on just five hits. It was just the second loss of the season for the sophomore, dropping his record to 6-2. Hancock had a fantastic tonight, but the Bulldog offense could not contribute, which is a credit to the Tennessee pitching staff.
Vols’ offense breaks through in the sixth
While Hancock was dominant for most of the game, only allowing one hit through the first five innings, it just took one rough inning to lose him the game, which came in the sixth.
Tennessee started the inning with back-to-back singles by Ricky Martinez and Zach Daniels. After Landon Gray laid down a bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out, Charleston got the first chance to put the Vols on the board. However, with the Bulldog infield playing in, Charleston hit the ball to third and Martinez was thrown out at home.
The next batter up, Max Ferguson, was able to do what he was trying to do and just put the ball in play with two outs. Even better for him, he was able to beat out the throw to first for an infield single that brought home Daniels and Charleston.
“I was just trying to make a play and trying to make something happen,” Ferguson said. “We knew runs were going to be at a premium and we were able to get those two right there and we had a good feeling.”
While Tennessee was not explosive on offense with just five hits, they were able to score all they needed to with a dominant pitching performance on the mound by Crochet and the bullpen.
Tennessee will try to carry the momentum from a huge win into tomorrow’s game two of the series against Georgia. First pitch from Lindsey Nelson Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m.