The Vols’ bats have not taken a day off so far this season. That trend continued Friday as No. 18 Tennessee (5-0) teed off on Iona’s (0-4) pitching for a 27-1 victory.
Tennessee stockpiled 21 hits, including 12 extra-base hits, five of which were home runs. It only took until the fourth inning, when the Vols were up 17-1, for Tennessee coach Tony Vitello to start emptying his bench.
Even though most players had good nights at the plate, senior third baseman Trey Lipscomb had a historic one. He went 5-for-5 with four extra-base hits and nine RBI. His bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the fifth earned him a cycle.
“It means a lot (to hit for the cycle), it’s pretty cool,” Lipscomb said after the game. “I actually had no idea. When I got to third, I saw them throw the ball in.”
Lipscomb spent most of his first three years at Tennessee on the bench. He waited patiently for his turn to be an everyday player and it has been paying off so far in 2022.
“It’s his time,” Vitello said. “He’s done everything right and he’s waited forever, it’s his time.”
Lipscomb’s cycle was Tennessee’s fourth in program history. It was the first since Jordan Rodgers did it against Kentucky on April 1, 2016.
“I just go out there and do what I’ve been doing since I got here but it’s pretty cool to see the results,” Lipscomb said.
The pitching was elite on Friday, as well. Freshman starting pitcher Chase Burns cruised through five innings in his second career start. He struck out four and gave up one unearned run while throwing just 74 pitches.
“He’s always got upperclassman experience-type presence to him,” Vitello said of the hard-throwing righty. “I have high expectations for Chase (Burns), and he’s never not met them. It will be fun to watch him get better and better.”
Burns has filled in nicely as a starter while Vols’ ace Blade Tidwell remains sidelined. He improved his record to 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA.
Iona’s early-season woes continued in a major way on Friday. In the Gaels’ opening series last weekend, Old Dominion swept them with a combined score of 47-3. This weekend’s series against Tennessee is off to an even more lopsided start.
Although the Vols are facing an inferior opponent, they still want to go out and take care of business for the rest of the series. Vitello knows his team still needs to show up on Saturday ready to play.
“I think it’s important for our team to control what we can control,” Vitello said. “I can’t babysit the guys at night, I’m not their alarm clock in the morning. …I’ll be excited to see if we can do better (on Saturday).”
Tennessee and Iona continue their series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium at 1:00 on Saturday.