Tennessee coach Dave Serrano knows what Vols fans are probably thinking after the 8-1 loss Saturday to No. 10-ranked Auburn.
“People look at the score, 8-1, and (say), ‘ah, the pitcher didn’t pitch well,’ and no we didn’t pitch well throughout the game, but we lost this as a team,” Serrano said. “I go back to early on, if we could scratch a run or two across, the whole complexion could have changed.
“We can say so close, but yet so far, but it doesn’t matter, a loss is a loss.”
The Vols (18-15, 4-11 SEC) had runners on first and second in the first inning, but Tigers starter Davis Daniel (3-2) fanned the next 3 batters, and Serrano felt the mood in Lindsey Nelson Stadium shift.
“It kind of took the air out of us a little bit,” Serrano said. “Even though it was only the first inning.”
Zach Warren, who was good enough to pitch for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in 2016, was not good enough to get out of the fifth inning.
Warren gave up 4 runs (3 earned) and yielded 2 walks in his 4 2/3 innings, falling to 2-4 after getting knocked out of the game by Auburn (27-11, 10-5).
“The expectation was he was going to come back and be one of our top tier guys,” Serrano said of the 6-foot-5, New Jersey product. “We need him to rise to that soon.”
Jordan Rodgers provided the only run of the game for the Vols, hitting a home run in the ninth inning to extend his streak of reaching base safely in all 32 games he has started this season.
Tennessee returns to action at 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday at home against UNC Asheville before traveling to Texas A&M next weekend.
Serrano said he’s not concerned about his team being ready to play after losing 2 of 3 to the Tigers in the series.
“I say this sarcastically, these guys will forget about it 10 minutes after their uniforms come off, I have to live with this for the next 48 to 72 hours,” Serrano said. “We’ll come out ready to play. We’ll come out ready to practice on Tuesday and play UNC Asheville on Wednesday ….
“We’ve created what we’re in right now, we’ve got to find a way to fight out of it.”