The Vols have escaped the wintery storms that have plagued eastern Tennessee as they head out west to take on the UC Irvine Anteaters. The Anteaters are coming off a trip to the College World Series last season, their first trip there since Dave Serrano's final season as their head coach in 2007. Sunday's planned game for the series has been moved up to today due to some projected rain, so the Vols will play a double header tonight.
The Anteaters have had a rough start to the season, where they dropped three at Fresno State before losing another three at California. They wrapped up their first win of the year last Sunday in the final game of a four game series at Cal.
This may be the first meeting between Tennessee and UC Irvine but there are a lot of familiar faces for both programs. Dave Serrano was the head coach at Irvine from 2005-2007 where he had associate head coach Greg Bergeron on his staff. Tennessee's Director of Baseball Operations, Tony Asaro, played under Serrano at Irvine. Two of UC Irvine's coaches (Ben Orloff and Danny Bibona) also played under Serrano while current Anteater Matt Esparza, who we will see on the mound this series, started his career at Tennessee before transferring away after his freshman season.
Tennessee is coming off of a road victory at Belmont on Wednesday after missing six games due to snow. The Vols fell behind early when Belmont capitalized on a lead off walk issued by Hunter Martin in the bottom of the first. The Vols responded with Nick Senzel's RBI triple in the fourth to tie up the game and took the lead in the fifth thanks to a walk drawn by Andrew Plunkett and two errors. Senzel picked up another RBI in the sixth with an infield single that scored Derek Lance. The Vols capitalized again in the ninth, as Andrew Lee reached on a fielder's choice, made his way to third thanks to an error and wild pitch, and then scored on another error to push the score to 4-1.
The Vols sent eight pitchers out to get work, with Jacob Westphal and Zach Reid both getting their freshmen debuts on the mound. Andrew Lee looked great in the ninth, where he struck out the side to get the save and seal Tennessee's victory.
Tennessee Volunteers (3-2) at UC Irvine Anteaters (1-6)
Date: Friday-Saturday February 27-28, 2015
First Pitch: 6 p.m. ET Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET Friday, and 4 p.m. ET Saturday at Anteater Ballpark, Irvine, California
Live Audio: UC Irvine
Probable Starting Pitchers: UT RHP Bret Marks (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs UCI LHP Elliot Surrey (0-1, 4.91 ERA)
UT RHP Kyle Serrano (0-0, 4.15 ERA) vs UCI RHP Matt Esparza (0-1, 4.91 ERA)
UT LHP Drake Owenby (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs UCI LHP Evan Manarino (1-0, 1.42 ERA)
Players to Keep an Eye on: