The Tennessee baseball team’s 2006 season got off to a great start Friday night as they defeated No. 18 Florida Atlantic 12-1 in Boca Raton, Fla.
The Volunteers were led by senior first baseman Chris Kemp, who blasted a three-run homer, and fellow senior Michael Rivera, who finished the game with three RBIs. Tennessee finished the game with a decisive edge in hits – 14-3.
The victory also marked a milestone for Tennessee coach Rod Delmonico. The win was his 635th of his career – moving him into fifth on the SEC’s all-time coaching wins list.
Sophomore James Adkins started the season right where he left off last year. The Vols ace gave up just one unearned run on one hit with three walks and four strikeouts in four innings of work. Junior right-hander Craig Cobb relieved Adkins and pitched three scoreless innings, including two strikeouts and just two hits.
The Vols then went to two true freshmen to close out the game. Ryne Simpson struck out two Vols in his inning of work, and Danny Wiltz recorded one strikeout on his way to a perfect ninth inning.
Julio Borbon did not make his teammates wait long to see the team’s first hit of the season. The sophomore led off the game with a basehit and promptly stole second base. Freshman Tony Delmonico followed by drawing a walk, and then both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Catcher J.P. Arencibia then drove Borbon in with an RBI groundout.
Adkins then took the hill and showed why he is the Vols’ Friday starter. The left-hander struck out the side, catching a pair of batters looking at strike three.
The top of the third saw Borbon and freshman left fielder Jarred Frazier reach on singles and advance on a sacrifice bunt by Delmonico. Kemp then gave the Vols pitching staff all the run support they would need as he sent a three-run home run over the right field fence. It was the third homer of Kemp’s career and came in just his second plate appearance in 19 months as he was forced to redshirt last season.
The fifth inning started with Borbon reaching on a Florida Atlantic error. He then crossed the plate when Delmonico sent a triple off the center field wall. The Vols batted around in the fifth inning, finishing with three runs on five hits and forcing three pitching changes.
By the end of the game, Florida Atlantic has used nine pitchers — including All-American pitcher Mickey Storey who lasted only 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
Tennessee continued the strong start with a 9-8 win over Florida Atlantic in the first half of a doubleheader Sunday. The Vols were able to fend off the Owls thanks to strong performances from relievers Craig Cobb and Sean Watson.
Freshman outfielder Ryan Jones came through for the Vols as he drove in the tying run and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.
The Vols were unable to leave Florida with the sweep as they dropped the series finale 6-5. The game was shortened to just seven innings due to Saturday’s game being postponed because of inclement weather Saturday.
Tennessee placed two runners on base in the top of the seventh, but Rivera grounded out to end the game. The Vols return home Friday to face Eastern Michigan at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.