KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)— Tennessee earned a hard-fought 2-0 win over No. 2 Georgia in a classic pitcher's duel on Thursday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Garrett Crochet made his first start of the season for the Vols and threw five shutout innings while working out of a number of jams to keep the Bulldogs off the board.
The sophomore lefty had six strikeouts and scattered seven hits while stranding runners on base in all five innings. After allowing a leadoff double and hitting the next batter in the top of the second, Crochet struck out the next three hitters to escape this biggest jam of the night.
Andrew Schultz came on to relieve Crochet in the sixth inning and gave up just one hit in two shutout innings to earn his first win of the season and just the second of his career. Redshirt sophomore Redmond Walsh continued his breakout season by picking up his team-leading fifth save. The Louisville, Tenn., native struck out two and surrendered just a single hit over the final two innings to secure the win.
The Big Orange were only able to muster five hits against Georgia ace Emerson Hancock, who was the hard-luck loser, falling to 6-2 on the year. The sophomore right hander struck out nine in a complete game effort.
Max Ferguson made the biggest play of the night, legging out an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, driving in the game's only two runs in the process. Ricky Martinez and Zach Daniels started the inning with back-to-back singles before a sacrifice bunt by Landon Gray.
After Martinez was thrown out on a fielder's choice for the second out, Ferguson hit a soft ground ball to second base and was able to beat Hancock to the bag for a base hit. Daniels scored from third and some heads-up base running by Jay Charleston at second base brought the second run home to make it 2-0.
The Bulldogs' best chance to break up the shutout came in the top of the seventh when they had runners on first and second with one out, but a diving catch in left field by Alerick Soularie saved at least one run from scoring before a long fly ball off the bat of Aaron Schunk was caught on the warning track in right center to end the threat.
Walsh took it from there, stranding two runners on base in the eighth before retiring the side in order in the top of the ninth to slam the door. The victory was the third for the Vols this season over a team ranked in the top five.
SHUTOUT NO. 7 FOR VOLS: Tennessee recorded its seventh shutout of the season on Thursday night and it's first in SEC play. The Vols seven shutouts this season lead the nation and are the most since the 1994 team set the program record with 10.
CROCHET SOLID IN FIRST START: Sophomore left hander Garrett Crochet was solid in his first start of the season, tossing five scoreless innings while striking out six. The Mississippi native worked out of jams in the first, second and third innings to keep the game scoreless.
UP NEXT: The Vols will look to secure the series with a win in game two tomorrow night. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be streamed online via SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app. Fans can also listen live as John Wilkerson and Vince Ferrara call the action for the Vol Radio Network (FM 99.1/AM 990).