Tennessee's Baseball team keeps proving this is a different team than last spring.
Down 6-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, the Vols loaded the bases and true freshman Cody Stubbs (who started to today in place of Cody Hawn) hit a game winning single, giving Tennessee a 7-6 come from behind win here at Lindsey Nelson Stadium here Saturday evening.
Finding a way to win the close game, one they trailed by two going into the last inning, isn't something the Vols did much last year.
Third year head coach Todd Raleigh kept his troops focused on the task at hand and kept confidence in his team to pull off the win.
"I kept telling them all we had to do is get a run here and there and we were going to win this ballgame," Raleigh told the media following the dramatic victory. "This is a great group of guys. I felt all along we could win this ballgame."
Winning by 10 in their season opener Friday night, the Vols showed a lot of character and a no quit attitude Saturday.
"They didn't give up, they didn't quit, they fought to find a way to win, we a much better team than we were last year," Raleigh acknowledged. "I think we are a Top 25 ballclub, those type clubs find ways to win even when dealing with adversity."
Xavier jumped out to an early 3-0 lead using good pitching and solid defense while limiting the Vols to just one hit in the first two stanzas.
Tennessee starting pitcher Steven Gruver struggled through his four innings that he pitched. He threw strikes but gave up some untimely hits that cost the Vols some runs.
"Gruver wasn't his best today, he kept us in it, the bullpen did its job," Raleigh said. "I felt good the whole game, we had chances in the seventh and the eight and didn't cash and won it in the ninth. Really proud of how we battled and stayed focused, they have a lot of discipline and a lot of heart, I'm very proud of them."
What a lot of people don't realize are how many talented true freshmen that Raleigh is utilizing in his lineup.
It was another true freshman, Stubbs who got the game winning hit.
"This type of game is good for us," Raleigh admitted. "It gives us a lot of confidence early, especially our young guys."
With Xavier leading 3-0 going into the bottom of the third inning, the Vols answered with two runs of their own to cut Xavier's lead to one.
The Musketeers answered in the fourth with one run and two runs in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead.
In the seventh and eighth innings, the Vols loaded the bases but couldn't push the game tying run across the plate. What's impressive is that the team didn't give up.
Tennessee stayed in the game with solid pitching from its bullpen, including Spencer Clift and Will Locante who combined to pitch three innings. Clift only gave up one hit and no runs, Locante was almost perfect. He faced three batters, threw 10 pitches and closed out the game.
Locante picked up the win for the Vols. Gruver finished the game pitching four innings, giving up nine hits; five runs all which were earned. He walked one and struck out five.
Steven McCray will be the starter Sunday for the 2-0 Volunteers in efforts of picking up the sweep of the series against the defending Atlantic Conference Champions and NCAA Tournament team.