Weather foiled multiple attempts to play Tennessee baseball’s home opener. When it finally arrived on Friday, no bad weather or a Tennessee loss was in sight. Pitching led the way in the Vols’ two wins over the Grand Canyon Antelopes this weekend at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Grand Canyon 1, Tennessee 4
Senior Bret Marks threw 7.2 dominant innings of one-run ball as Tennessee played a solid, consistent nine innings of baseball. Marks’ 7.2 inning pitched and 12 strikeouts were both career highs. He only allowed five hits and one run, a solo home run in the top of the second inning. A.J. Simcox hit a bases-loaded single to plate a pair of runs and give the Vols the lead in the bottom of the third inning, and that was all the cushion that Marks and reliever Andy Cox would need. Cox replaced Marks with two outs in the eighth inning and struck out the only four batters he saw. Tennessee added a run in the seventh inning when Brodie Leftridge came around to score on a fielding error. The Vols finished the scoring in the following inning when Christin Stewart smashed a solo home run that hit the scoreboard, giving Tennessee its fourth and final run.
Grand Canyon 1, Tennessee 0
Tennessee’s offense out-hit the Antelopes, but the Vols could not capitalize in a few key situations to put runs on the board in an impressive pitcher’s duel. Tennessee starter Drake Owenby and Grand Canyon starter Coley Bruns each only gave up 4 hits in their respective outings. Owenby went a career-long 8.0 innings, recording four strikeouts and only walking two men. The lone run Owenby gave up came on a groundout in the fifth inning. For Grand Canyon, Bruns struck out just over 6.1 innings. Four Antelope relievers combined to give up just two hits the rest of the way. The Vols missed a golden chance to put runs on the board in the sixth when Nick Senzel flied out to right with the bases loaded. Tennessee moved a runner to third base again in the seventh inning but failed to get the tying run across.
Grand Canyon 1, Tennessee 7
The Vols were boosted by some offensive rhythm en route to a 7-1 win in the rubber match of the series. Tennessee scored five runs in the sixth innings to blow open a game that was 2-0. Brodie Leftridge reached first base on a fielder’s choice to start the rally and moved to second when Vincent Jackson followed with a walk. A.J. Simcox knocked Leftridge and Jackson in with a single to make it a 4-0 game. After Nick Senzel was hit by a pitch, Christin Stewart hit a two-run double to push the lead to 6 and later scored on a bunt to end the scoring at 7-0. Kyle Serrano pitched five innings of one-hit ball, and Peter Lenstrohm and Andy Cox combined to only give up two hits in the final four frames to secure the Vols’ 7-0 win.
Edited by Maggie Jones