Searching for the perfect analogy to describe his team's current mentality, Dave Serrano ventured back a few months.
"It's like Christmas is coming up," UT's third-year head coach said, "and everything before that's a blur ... that's kind of what we're going through right now."
The festive December holiday? The Vols' weekend road trip to perennial college baseball powerhouse Arizona State.
And the blur?
Wednesday night's midweek series finale against one-win La Salle.
But despite being out-hit by the Explorers and struggling to maintain offensive consistency, the No. 19 Vols took advantage of nine La Salle walks and four Explorer errors en route to a 10-2 victory Wednesday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
"I addressed it before the game," Serrano said. "'Let's bring our energy level (up). (Although there's) all the anxiety and energy going into Arizona State, that's first things first.
"Fortunately we were able to take advantage of some miscues — some walks — and put up a lot of runs early to kind of expand it a little bit."
A five-run fifth blew the contest open as the Vols sent 10 men to the plate and banged out five hits in the inning. Nick Senzel delivered the crippling blow with a three-run double that upped the UT lead to 7-0.
Following two walks, an RBI single and a catcher's interference, the Knoxville native ripped a 1-0 pitch to the cavernous left-center field gap. The double raised his average to .406 and RBI total to 12 — both good for second on the team.
"First pitch I saw was a slider in the dirt," Senzel said. "The second pitch was a fastball up and in so I just tried to get a good piece on that."
Like his head coach, though, the freshman designated hitter agreed the team's focus was a bit distracted the last two days.
"Our energy level hasn't been the best the past couple of games," Senzel said. "(We're) maybe just looking ahead, but we can't do that. We just got to take it game by game."
UT (12-0) opened the scoring in the second, pushing across its initial three runs without the benefit of a hit. In the inning, La Salle (1-11) offered up three walks, two wild pitches and a throwing error to aid the Vols' offense, who could only manage just one base knock through the first four frames.
"Fortunately we were able to capitalize on some miscues," Serrano said. "The scoreboard sometimes lies a little bit, and (despite scoring) 10 runs, I don't think we swung the bat extremely well."
In his UT debut, starter Bret Marks (1-0, 0.00 ERA) — a junior college transfer who played the last two seasons at Wallace State — tossed three scoreless frames, surrendering just one hit and a single free pass to go along with a pair of strikeouts.
The junior righty needed 12 pitches to get through the first two batters of the game, but Marks quickly settled down after that, allowing only one additional La Salle hitter to reach base.
"That's kind of how he pitches," Serrano said. "He'll buzz a guy, and then he'll throw a ball down the next pitch. That's kind of Bret Marks if you knew him at all. But it was very encouraging the last two nights to get him in the game and Hunter (Martin), two guys that I think have established themselves over the fall and the winter workouts."
Five relievers followed Marks, the only blemish being the sixth where the Explorers strung together three consecutive hits that produced their only two runs of the evening.
"It expands our pitching a little bit," Serrano said, "as long as we can continue to stay healthy."