Tennessee (3-2) struggled offensively in much of its series opener against UNC Greensboro (3-2), but a two-run double from Benito Santiago in the seventh inning gave the Volunteers their first lead and a 3-2 Friday night win.
“It worked out well that he was there,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said of Santiago. “We’ve got a guy who’s very determined to win and that’s what you need.”
“I view myself in every situation. I want to be in it with the bat and with the glove,” Santiago said.
Santiago is now hitting .455 with 7 RBIs in Tennessee’s first five games.
“They need to learn how a weekend goes and how to win a series,” Vitello said of the Vols. “They need to learn how to win and we’ve done it now, so in my mind we’ve learned it. I hope they feel that way.”
Tennessee starting pitcher Zach Liginfelter held UNCG to two runs on four hits in 5.1 innings. The Spartans had scored 38 runs in their first four games.
“To me, he didn’t have quite the command of off-speed that he did last weekend. Their hitters are very well-coached,” Vitello said of Liginfelter. “What we really needed Zach to do was build his pitch count up a little bit and give us five or six innings. He’s going to have to do that before he can give us seven or eight in a conference game, which I think he’s fully capable of doing.”
Tennessee and UNCG will play the second game of this three-game series Saturday at 2 p.m.