Tennessee baseball takes season-opening series at Memphis

Tennessee baseball opened its season with a 2-1 series win over Memphis that included a pair of offensive outbursts.

KNOXVILLE,TN - MAY 17, 2016 - Catcher Tyler Schultz #14 of the Tennessee Volunteers celebrates during the game between ETSU Buccaneers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee got off to a quick start to the season this weekend, riding the hot bats of returning players and young arms to take a weekend series 2-1 over Memphis in West Tennessee.

Vols jump out early, hold on for 8-5 win in season opener

Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano was clear on the message to his team after the Vols’ 8-5 win over Memphis to begin the season.

“I told them before the game: ‘It’s game one,'” Serrano said. “I’m happy for them … but I don’t want them to be satisfied.”

After jumping out to a 7-1 lead through four innings, Tennessee held off the Tigers to get its first win of the season.

The Vols started four freshman in the opening day lineup, and all four recorded a hit. Freshman Andre Lipcius, who started at first base, registered the Vols’ first hit and RBI of the year in a two-run first inning. After senior Jeff Moberg was hit by a pitch and senior Jordan Rodgers walked, a Memphis error scored Moberg and put two men on for Lipcius. The freshman responded in kind, delivering a single to bring home Rodgers and give Tennessee the 2-0 lead.

The Vols opened things up in the fourth inning, this time from some familiar faces. Moberg opened the inning’s scoring with an RBI single. Junior catcher Benito Santiago followed with a two-run triple before Rodgers homered to extend Tennessee’s lead to 7-1. The Vols’ only other run came in the following inning on another Moberg RBI single.

Senior Hunter Martin got the start on the mound for Tennessee in the opener, throwing 6.0 innings of three-hit ball and allowing just three earned runs in his first win of the season. Sophomore Daniel Vasquez followed with 1.1 innings pitched, allowing a run on three hits before being pulled for freshman Will Heflin. Heflin closed out the last two outs of the seventh inning, setting up fellow freshman Garrett Stallings to finish the final two to seal the win.

Vols’ offense stymied during 4-1 loss in game two

Tennessee couldn’t overcome a talented duo of Memphis pitchers in game two, managing just five hits for the game.

“We were sloppy in some at bats,” Serrano said. “We didn’t hit a lot of positive outs to opposite field … in the end of the day, that’s a negative.”

Things started out better than that for the Vols, however. Moberg, the game’s second batter, hit his second career homerun to give the Vols their only run for the day. Moberg hit .415 in 16 games last season before tearing his ACL and missing the remainder of the year.

Tennessee got two other hits in the opening inning, but couldn’t turn back-to-back singles by Rodgers and freshman Justin Ammons into runs after Rodgers was thrown out at the plate to end the half-inning. The Vols put together just two more hits in the following eight innings: a single by Lipcius and and infield single by transfer Reggie Southall.

Junior Zach Warren started for the Vols and took the loss, despite allowing just two runs on four hits in 4.0 innings pitched. Freshman Zach Lingenfelter pitched the final four innings, allowing just three more hits, including a two-run homer in the eight inning to ice things for Memphis.

Tennessee bats return for 10-0 series-clinching win

Tennessee bounced back from Saturday’s five-hit performance by putting up a staggering 18 hits and 10 runs on Sunday to clinch the series against Memphis in the Vols’ first three-game series at the Tigers since 1981.

“I’m proud of the whole team for coming back out after a tough loss last night and clinching the series,” Serrano said.

Similar to game one, Tennessee opened the scoring quickly. The Vols poured in seven second-inning runs on eight hits — six of which came with two outs. Lipcius doubled to open the inning. Two batters later, Dom Thornton followed with a double of his own to bring in Lipcius and open the scoring.

After a sacrifice bunt put the Vols’ in a two-out situation, the hits kept on coming. Junior Brodie Leftridge doubled to score Thornton, and Moberg followed with a single to score Leftridge and move Tennessee’s lead to 3-0. After a pair of wild pitches moved Moberg to third base and Ammons walked, Rodgers knocked the Vols’ fourth double of the inning to score Moberg and move Ammons to third.

After a pitching change, Santiago’s RBI single scored both Ammons and Rodgers to extend the lead to 6-0 before freshman Pete Derkay later singled home Santiago to put Tennessee up 7-0.

A Thornton RBI single added a run the Vols’ lead in the seventh before Lipcius’ fourth hit, another double, scored the final two runs for Tennessee in the eight inning. Lipcius and Rodgers both tallied 4-for-5 hit totals on the day.

On the defensive side of things, sophomore Will Neely’s one-hit, six-inning pitching performance kept Memphis from even hinting at a comeback. Neely registered the win, but was followed by Stallings, freshman Andrew Schultz and senior Jon Lapinski, who each pitched an inning in relief and combined to allow just one hit.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

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Nathan is a junior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He spends most of his free time eating meaningless foods and watching sports. If you wish to contact Nathan, you can email him at wodom3@vols.utk.edu or find him on Twitter, @NathanOdom11.