published Monday, March 19th, 2012

Baseball Vols shut out No. 19 Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. -- Tennessee's baseball team did more than salvage its first series of SEC play with a 3-0 win at Georgia on Sunday afternoon.

The Volunteers might have found another pitcher for their weekend rotation.

Sophomore Nick Williams, normally UT's closer, made his first career start on Sunday and limited the 19th-ranked Bulldogs to just two hits in six innings. The Knoxville native walked one and struck out five. Friday starter Nick Blount got four outs in relief, and Carter Watson earned the save.

"It was a good day," Williams said. "I was just trying to go out there and help our team battle and compete on the mound. I was just trying to win the next pitch. I was telling myself to win the next pitch, win the next inning."

Given the first two games of the weekend, Williams' performance came at the best possible time with Georgia extending UT's losing streak to five. The Bulldogs handed the Vols their first shutout of the season in a 4-0 win on Friday night and rallied from a 5-1 deficit with a five-run fifth inning off UT starter Zack Godley in a 10-5 Saturday afternoon. The Vols had nine or more hits in all three games.

"You forgot how good winning feels," UT coach Dave Serrano said after Sunday's game. "That felt good. When you see what happens around this conference with a lot of teams getting swept, when you can walk out of here with a win you feel good about it. I told the team before the game that it is never going to be easy for us.

"Where we are at right now, it is never going to be easy, so let's prepare for the toughest battle each and every day and they did it."

Freshman second baseman Will Maddox had three hits in two of the weekend's three games, and senior first baseman Davis Morgan capped a 6-for-11 series at the plate with a two-run home run on Sunday. Williams' performance, though, might provide the Vols (11-8, 1-2 SEC) with their biggest storyline of the weekend.

"We are at a stage right now where it is about mentality and I thought that [Nick] would give us the best opportunity [to win]," Serrano said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that he would go out there and give us as many innings as he did on a hot Sunday afternoon. I have to give him all the kudos in the world."

The Vols will host Florida International in a nonconference game Wednesday at 6 p.m. before returning to SEC play this weekend hosting Kentucky a three-game series starting Friday.

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