KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Release) - Senior Zack Godley fired Tennessee's first complete-game shutout since 2006 as the Volunteers (12-9, 2-2) claimed the series opener over Missouri (7-11, 1-3), 4-0, on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The last UT pitcher to throw a nine-inning shutout was Craig Cobb in a 19-0 win over LSU on April 8, 2006. Godley finished with eight strikeouts and scattered five hits as he evened his record at 2-2 for the year.
“What we got out of [Godley] was huge,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “I mean, when you anticipate that we're going to play a doubleheader tomorrow, you hope you find a guy who can go deep into the game. We had to get two guys up that didn't come in the game and that is still a little wear-and-tear on them, but we didn't have to use anyone else which bodes well for us tomorrow. They had to use three guys tonight and we had to use one.
“Tip of the hat to Zack. Sometimes I am tough on my pitchers because you can look at the scoreboard [and see] 4-0, he gave up five hits, but he walked too many guys. He walked five guys and he overcame himself, got some big double-play balls after he got himself in a jam and I'm very proud of him because I know he's worked extremely hard to have a complete game and he finally got one.
“I would be wrong if I didn't compliment the defense. As much as Zack pitched well, if it wasn't for the outfield defense, and the defense overall, it would have been hard to throw that shutout. I thought we made some spectacular plays in the outfield and I'm very proud of our guys for doing that.”
For the 17th time in 21 games this season, the Big Orange got on the scoreboard in the first inning, plating three runs to give Godley all the support he would need. Junior Scott Price got the scoring started with an RBI single to center before Pierce Bily came through with a clutch two-out hit just moments later to drive in two more.
That was the beginning of a 3-for-3 night for Bily who posted his second consecutive three-hit performance. He is 6-for-8 over his last two games as he has upped his average to a solid .345 on the season.
“I thought we took some good at-bats,” Serrano said. “Anytime our leadoff hitter gets on, especially when it's Will Maddox, we seem to score. We got some clutch base hits. Pierce Bily got a clutch base hit in that [first] inning, and he had a great game. He continues to show his experience as a junior college transfer like Price has done and like Taylor Smart has done.
“I think [the first inning] settled our team down a little bit. I'll be honest with you, we've talked a lot this week as a team, we've worked on things, and we've talked about holding them accountable. I think we were kind of tip-toeing around a little bit. Our coaches noticed that, during BP, it was almost like they were afraid to make a mistakes and I think the three [runs] kind of allowed them to take that deep breath, exhale and think, ‘Ok, now let's put it in Zack's hands and get a Friday win for the first time this year.’”
Godley worked out of a number of jams throughout the game, stranding a total of eight Tiger base runners. Missouri’s biggest threat came in the eighth when a walk and a single put runners on the corners with just one out. The Bamberg, S.C., native buckled down though, getting MU cleanup hitter Dylan Kelly swinging or the second out and an easy groundball to shortstop to end the inning.
The Vols then added an insurance run in the home half of the frame as Taylor Smart drew a one-out walk, moved to third on a single by Bily and scored on a safety squeeze by Parker Wormsley.
Godley came back out for the ninth and closed out his first career complete game with a strikeout and a 6-3 double play to give the Vols their second SEC win of the season.
Due to the high probability of inclement weather on Sunday, Tennessee and Missouri are now scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday. The first game will begin at 1 p.m. with the series finale coming 45 minutes after it concludes. Junior right-hander Nick Williams (1-0, 2.45) will make his first start of the season for the Vols in the opening contest and freshman RHP Trevor Bettencourt (2-1, 1.65) will get the ball in the second game.