Tennessee jumped on top of Middle Tennessee early and got efficient mound work from a pair of right-handers in a 9-2 home win Tuesday night.
It was Tennessee's first win over Middle Tennessee since March 11, 2014. The two square off again on April 19 in Murfreesboro.
Eric Freeman hurled five innings of shutout baseball before Steven Kane tossed three frames of one-run ball to give the Vols (15-9) a solid effort on the rubber. Neither right-hander gave up a walk and they combined for four strikeouts.
"I kind of got back to what coach Serrano calls being myself," Freeman said.
Two-thirds of Tennessee's runs came on RBIs from junior third baseman Nick Senzel, who homered twice. The first fence-clearing shot came with two down in the bottom of the first. The next blast was a three-run homer with two down in the third after Benito Santiago and Chris Hall singled. Senzel brought home another run on a bases-loaded walk in the fifth. A sixth-inning sacrifice fly gave Senzel his sixth RBI.
While Senzel was grand marshal of the Tennessee hit parade, he wasn't alone in swinging a hot bat as the Vols cranked out 11 hits. Derek Lance and Jordan Rodgers singled twice. Hall added a second single and scored twice.
Rodgers and Senzel have a combined 74 RBIs. Hall raised his batting average to .386.
The Blue Raiders (12-13) had three batters with multi-hit performances and they totaled 10 knocks. Sam Alton (2-2) was the losing pitcher.
Freshman left-hander Alex Harper-Cook takes the pearl for the Big Orange against North Carolina-Asheville on Wednesday at 6 p.m Eastern. The Maryville native made his first and only collegiate start versus East Tennessee State on March 9 and didn't allow a run in two frames.