June 16, 2024

Tennessee still winless in SEC play after being swept by Mississippi State

Tennessee’s rough start to conference play continues after getting swept on the road by Mississippi State.

KNOXVILLE, TN - MARCH 18, 2017 - #28 Jon Lipinski of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

Following a sweep at home to South Carolina in the conference series opener, Tennessee suffered the same fate after a series at Mississippi State, leaving the Vols winless thus far in SEC play.

Game One

Tennessee took a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning before giving up three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Redshirt junior Kyle Serrano struck out the first batter of the inning, but then allowed the next three runners to reach base. Left fielder Tanner Poole brought in the first run of the inning with an RBI single. Serrano recorded another strikeout before Brent Rooker two-out two-RBI double ultimately gave the Bulldogs their 5-4 lead which ultimately turned out to be the final score.

Mississippi State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to Elijah’s MacNamee’s two-run home run off starting pitcher Hunter Martin.

Martin lasted 5.1 innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs while recording three strikeouts.

The Vols cut the deficit in half in the top of the third when Justin Ammons RBI double scored Max Bartlett. Ammons finished the day 2-5, one of three Tennessee hitters to record a multi-hit game.

A three-run fourth inning gave Tennessee its only lead of the game. Benito Santiago’s game-tying double scored Pete Derkay. This was followed by Dom Thornton’s go-ahead two-run home run, which not only gave the Vols a 4-2 lead, but it was his first home run on the season. Thornton went 2-3 and also drew a walk during the series opener.

Despite outhitting Mississippi State 12 to 10, the Vols failed to secure a victory in the series opener. Responsible for the three seventh inning runs, Serrano (0-1) was handed the loss. In his 1.1 innings of work, he recorded three strikeouts.

Freshman Garrett Stallings came in relief for Serrano and recorded the final four outs for Tennessee. he gave up two hits, struck out two batters and gave up zero runs.

Game Two

By the end of the fourth inning, Mississippi State held a 13-0 lead. The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the second inning before scoring twelve more runs in a span of three innings.

Tennessee’s starting pitcher Zach Linginfelter lasted only 1.2 innings, giving up six hits and five earned runs.

Unfortunately, the relief pitchers failed to control the damage. Daniel Vasquez came in relief for Lingifelter and went on to give up six hits and five runs himself in just one inning of work.

Following him, Connor Darling gave up five hits and three runs in his 2.2 innings of work. Going into the sixth inning, Mississippi State had already notched 17 hits. At this point, the score was 13-1.

As for Tennessee, Pete Derkay and Andre Lipcius both finished the game with two hits, the only hitters to record multiple hits.

Mississippi State outhit the Vols 20 to nine and the Bulldogs first baseman Brent Rooker’s two-run bomb in the second inning was the lone home run of the game.

Freshman Will Heflin continued his strong 2017 campaign, throwing a scoreless eighth inning while striking out two hitters. With an ERA sitting at 1.59, his outing served as one of the long positives for game two of the conference series.

Game Three

Tennessee jumped on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Andre Lipcius’ RBI single scored Jeff Moberg after he reached base on his own single. Both Lipcius and Moberg finished the game with two hits.

Unfortunately, the Vols failed to hold on to their lead as Mississippi State responded with four runs in the bottom half of the first.

After giving up a leadoff single, starting pitcher Zach Warren gave up a two-run home run to Rooker, who homered for a second consecutive game. Warren ended up allowing four consecutive hits, including a run scoring triple, before finally recording an out.

In Warren’s four innings of work, he was responsible for six runs while giving up 11 hits. He only walked one hitter, but he also struck out just one Mississippi State hitter.

Dom Thornton’s second inning home run cut the deficit to 4-2, his second of the series.

The Vols continued to chip away in the third inning after Lipcuis’ second RBI single of the afternoon, this one scoring Jordan Rodgers.

After finishing 2-3, Rodgers continues his season-long streak of reaching base safely at 20 games.

Unfortunately, Mississippi State scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-3 lead, thanks to a Ryan Gridley RBI groundout and MacNamee RBI single. Tennessee would never pull within a run for the remainder of the game.

Jeff Moberg recorded a sac fly in the seventh inning to give Tennessee its fourth and final run of the game. Ammons scored the run on the play.

A positive for Tennessee is that Serrano and Stallings finished the game off strong in relief, combining to get the final eight outs while recording five strikeouts.

For a second consecutive game, starting pitching failed the Vols while the lineup could only total nine hits.

This combination paints a rather telling picture for Tennessee, who has started conference play 0-6.

The Vols host Tennessee Tech on Tuesday for a chance to get back on track before a home series against Georgia over the weekend.

Edited by Robert Hughes

Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

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