CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – No. 22 Tennessee got its first win in the NCAA Tournament since 2005 with a 10-3 win over UNC-Wilmington in Saturday afternoon’s elimination game at Boshamer Stadium.
UT and UNCW had met two prior times in the NCAA Tournament with the Seahawks defeating the Vols twice back in the 2004 NCAA Kinston Regional. The Big Orange were able to exact a little revenge on Saturday, eliminating UNCW from postseason play.
Ricky Martinez led the charge offensively for the Vols with a 3-for-4 performance and two RBIs. The Pflugerville, Texas native had RBI singles in the fourth and sixth innings and also scored a pair of runs.
Tennessee’s pitching staff had a solid afternoon, holding the Seahawks to just a single run through the first eight innings before allowing two in the ninth after the game had already been decided.
Freshman right hander Camden Sewell got the start for the Vols and went 4.2 innings, surrendering one run on four hits. Sewell also had four strikeouts on the afternoon before making way for Garrett Crochet.
The sophomore lefty made his first appearance since taking a line drive off the jaw in the final series of the regular season. Crochet earned the win to improve to 5-3 with the win after tossing 2.1 shutout innings while allowing just two hits and striking out four batters.
Jay Charleston provided the Vols with an early spark, scoring the first run of the game on a wild pitch by Landen Roupp in the top of the first. The junior from Longwood, Fla. reached on a bunt single, stole second and reached third on a throwing error before scoring on the wild pitch.
Freshman Connor Pavolony put the game out of reach in the eighth with his first-career grand slam to put UT up 10-1. It was the third grand slam for Tennessee in its NCAA Tournament history and the first since Stevie Daniels hit one in a 6-3 super-regional win over East Carolina on June 3, 2001.
Defensive miscues by the Seahawks also aided the Vols’ offense on the day. UNCW committed five errors on the afternoon allowing the Vols to score three unearned runs while the game was still close.
Roupp was stuck with the loss for UNCW despite a pretty solid performance on the mound. The sophomore right hander had six strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work and scattered five hits. Three of the five runs he gave up were unearned.
Highly touted pro prospect Greg Jones led the Seahawks at the plate with a pair of hits and three RBI.
BIG RICK: Ricky Martinez was the lone Vol with NCAA Tournament experience entering this weekend, playing in two postseason games with Sacramento State in the Palo Alto Regional back in 2017. He had three hits over two games and has added four more hits this weekend over two games.
CHARLESTON SWIPING MORE BAGS: With two steals today, Vols’ junior Jay Charleston is the first Tennessee and SEC player to steal 40 or more bases in a season since Chris Burke stole 49 bags back in 2001.
UP NEXT: The Volunteers will move on to face the loser of the UNC/Liberty game later today. That game is slated for a 12:00 p.m. first pitch on Sunday and will be streamed on ESPN3 and the ESPN App. Fans can also listen live as John Wilkerson call the action for the Vol Radio Network (FM 99.1/AM 990).