Maryland spoils Tony Vitello’s coaching debut

Tennessee dropped its season-opener to Maryland on Friday night, kicking the Tony Vitello era off with a loss.

Vols baseball team meets during the game against Norfolk State on March 4, 2017. Photo by Austin Perryman, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics. No changes made.

Maryland (1-0) spoiled the start to the Tony Vitello era Friday night in Knoxville, defeating Tennessee 2-0.

A gloomy afternoon in Knoxville dampened the opening day mood, pushing first-pitch back from 3:30 p.m. to 6:05 p.m. Tennessee’s (0-1) bats also proved gloomy, collecting only six hits in the season-opener.

“You’re not going to get anything done when you’re timid,” Vitello said following the game. “We had guys who were flat out nervous.”

While the bats never got going, right-hander Zach Linginfelter took the mound for the Vols and managed to keep the game within reach.

Linginfelter put together scoreless innings in the first, second and third, but ran into trouble in the fourth.

“What we saw out of him that we didn’t see last year was the ability to mix speeds, pitch himself out of jams, and be a good defender on the mound,” Vitello said of Linginfelter. “He showed an arsenal that can give you an SEC Friday night win.”

Maryland second baseman Nick Dunn, a preseason All-American, smacked a solo shot to right to put the Terrapins on the scoreboard. Taylor Wright then hit a single to center before stealing second. With Wright on second, Will Watson lined an RBI single through the left side of the infield to extend the lead to 2-0.

Linginfelter got out of the jam and concluded his first outing of the season. The Sevier County native finished having allowed six hits, two earned runs and three walks while striking out six.

Freshman Chase Wallace entered in relief to make his impressive Big Orange debut. Wallace worked two scoreless innings to keep the Maryland lead at 2-0.

Fellow freshman Garrett Crochet also made his debut. The Mississippi native impressed in three innings of work but allowed Dunn to hit his second home run of the game to extend the Terrapins lead to 3-0 in the top of the eighth.

In the ninth, Maryland extended its lead to 4-0 on an RBI double from Marty Costes.

Tennessee could never string together a run of hits, hitting just 2-for-13 with runners on base.

The Vols threatened in the eighth after Jay Charleston reached based to start the inning on a hit by pitch. Andre Lipcius also reached on a walk, but with runners on first and third, Benito Santiago struck out to end the inning.

Wyatt Stapp shone as the lone bright spot on offense, as the Texas native continued the theme of freshmen contributing in their college debut. Stapp, the Vols new starting third baseman, was 2-for-4 on the evening.

“What I’ve always done is just try to see the ball, hit the ball,” Stapp said after the game. “That’s just kind of my mentality, so I just go with that every game.”

Tennessee and Maryland will square off in game two of the three-game series tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. ET. Sophomore right-hander Garrett Stallings will be on the bump for the Vols.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics