Tennessee gets revenge over ETSU

After dropping the first two meetings of the season, the Tennessee baseball team got revenge over ETSU Tuesday night. With the 6-2 victory at Thomas Field in Johnson City, the Vols improved to 22-17 on the season.

Sophomore slinger Will Heflin gave another strong performance on the mound, as he pitched six innings while only allowing four hits and no earned runs. Heflin improved his record to 4-1 after the midweek win. The Morristown-born pitcher has only given up six hits and dealt over 11 scoreless innings for Tennessee in his two starts this season.

“We knew he was going to be a guy we could count on in some capacity,” Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello said. “We’re still searching for some roles to be pinned down by some pitchers.”

Senior catcher Benito Santiago also had a big night, driving in three runners against the Buccaneers. Santiago also had two hits and scored one run. Eight separate Vols had at least one hit in the win. After his dominant performance on Tuesday, Santiago leads Tennessee in with a .407 batting average and 23 RBIs in non-conference games this season.

Sophomore outfielder Justin Ammons scored three runs on two hits. With his strong performance, Ammons has now reached base in his last 15 games. The Vols hopped out to an early 1-0 lead after Ammons drove in sophomore Pete Derkay in the first inning.

Tennessee tallied two more runs in the next inning. Freshman Wyatt Stapp drove in a run, and Brandon Trammell scored to put the Vols in a 3-0 lead in the second inning. The Volunteers threatened ETSU with the bases loaded but only came away with one run after Santiago walked to make it 4-0.

Santiago and Tennessee finished strong by driving in two runs in the ninth inning. The Buccaneers scored just two runs in the game. Excellent pitching by Heflin and solid defense by the orange-and-white never gave ETSU time to climb back into the game.

ETSU starting pitcher Daniel Sweeney had a tough night on the mound. He gave up four earned runs and nine hits in just over three innings of work. The Bucs’ other five pitchers that took to the mound on Tuesday gave up just one hit and two earned runs combined.

The next test for Tennessee will come against the Texas A&M Aggies starting Friday night. The weekend series will be played in Knoxville at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The first pitch of game one is set for 6:30 p.m. ET.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Lady Vols sweep LSU in Knoxville

In a weekend series, the No. 10 ranked Tennessee Lady Vols won all three games against the LSU Tigers. Tennessee moves to 37-8 on the season. The Lady Vols are now on a four-game winning streak after their big weekend in Knoxville.

Friday welcomed the first game of the series, with Caylan Arnold taking the stripe for Tennessee. Arnold pitched 6.1 innings while striking out six batters and allowing two runs on eight hits. With the win, Arnold moved to 16-4 on the season.

Hot bats led the Lady Vols to victory, starting with a Meghan Gregg solo homerun in the first inning. Gregg became the all-time homerun leader in Tennessee softball history with 52 longballs.

“I thought we did a good job sticking to our game plan,” Co-head coach Karen Weekly said. “The kids were excited about Meghan Gregg breaking that record. That’s a record that’s stood for a long time, and I think as coaches we weren’t sure it would ever be broken.”

Saturday featured a double header, with game two of the weekend starting at 1 p.m. at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. In game two, Matty Moss got the start for the Lady Vols. Moss pitched 6.2 innings while striking out four batters and allowing two runs on four hits. Moss moved to 16-3 on the season with the win.

Tennessee’s first two runs of the game came on two errors committed by the Tigers. Junior infielder Aubrey Leach got on base in the first inning after a walk and advanced by stealing second. She then headed to third base due to a wild pitch. Leach eventually scored on a passed ball. Leach also scored the second run for the Lady Vols after another error in the third inning. Tennessee went on to win the game 3-2.

In the final game of the weekend, Arnold got the start for the Volunteers. Arnold pitched five innings and only allowed two runs on five hits. She improved her record to 17-4 on the season. Tennessee fell behind early. LSU scored two runs in the first three innings. With a Scarlet McSwain bases-clearing double in the third, Tennessee tied the game at 2-2.

After being knotted up at 4-4 in the seventh inning, the final game of the series went into extra innings. In the bottom of the eighth inning, junior Haley Bearden hit a walk-off home run to give the Lady Vols the 6-4 win over the Tigers. The home run marked the first walk-off winner in Bearden’s Tennessee career.

Bearden tried to focus to get the win.

“I was trying to be calm and not make it any bigger than it is,” Bearden said. “We didn’t have any outs and I got up there and saw the ball well and I swung.”

The series win over the Tigers marked the first for the Lady Vols since sweeping Missouri in March.

The next game for Tennessee will be against ETSU on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET in Knoxville. The next series for the Vols will come against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama starting April 20. Game one against the Tide is set for 5:30 p.m. ET Friday night.

 

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Vols smash UT-Martin to win midweek series

Tennessee (21-14) downed UT-Martin (5-25) 15-1 to win the two-game series Wednesday afternoon. Behind a hot bat from senior catcher Benito Santiago, the Vols kept the momentum going after Tuesday’s 9-0 win over the UT-Martin Skyhawks.

UT-Martin made several mistakes in the game from which Tennessee benefited. The Skyhawks recorded two errors in the game but had several wild pitches. The Volunteers got on the board first behind a wild pitch from UT-Skyhawks pitcher Dalton Westfall.

Freshman infielder Brandon Trammel came in to score with two outs on the board, giving the team a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore Pete Derkay proved to be one of the most consistent players on the Tennessee roster, as he recorded a team-best 17-straight games getting on base.

Derkay rounded for home on another wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning, giving the Vols a 3-0 lead to end the second inning.

“I just try to have a quality at bat every single time I get up there, and a quality at bat is getting on base,” Derkay said. “If I get on base, I know I can help the team.”

Santiago blew it wide open with a solo homer to left field to give Tennessee a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tennessee poured it on the Skyhawks, specifically in the bottom of the eighth inning, when they scored seven runs in the inning.

Once again, Santiago sparked the Volunteers’ scoring when he doubled to center field, bringing in sophomore Luc Lipcius and freshman Zach Daniels, giving Tennessee an 11-0 lead. Senior outfielder Leftridge then returned the favor to Santiago, bringing him home off of a single to left field and putting the team up 12-0 after eight innings of play.

Sophomore pitcher Will Heflin got his first start for the orange-and-white and did not disappoint. Heflin dealt for five innings and allowed just two hits to tally his third win of the season.

Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello was proud of how the team closed the game, as they only allowed three hits throughout the game. Especially considering Tennessee’s struggles to close out games this year.

“There’s some things we could have done better in today’s game, and yesterday,” Vitello said. “We were relaxed, but at no point were our guys not mentally prepared to play or mentally checked out, despite a couple times we got up on them pretty good.”

The Volunteers walked 14 times and recorded 12 hits. Tennessee will face LSU in Baton Rouge for a weekend series starting Friday at 8 p.m. ET.

Written by Caleb Souders

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Lady Vols bounce back against Memphis

After dropping a third straight series and back-to-back games, Tennessee (34-8, 5-7 SEC) rebounded with an 8-0 throttling of Memphis on Tuesday. The No. 10 ranked Lady Vols rolled to an 8-0 victory in five innings in the Mid-State Classic matchup in Columbia, Tennessee.

Star Tennessee shortstop Meghan Gregg registered her 51st career homerun in orange-and-white to tie the Tennessee all-time record. With the win, Tennessee advances to an impressive 123-3 record against in-state teams and remains undefeated against such teams under head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly.

“It was terrific to see us hit the ball like we did today,” K. Weekly said. “It was great breakout in Columbia in front of a great crowd.”

Ridley Sports Complex packed in a sold out crowd, as they saw Gregg and the Volunteers get their bats going early in the game. Gregg hit the first RBI of the day, as senior Scarlet McSwain rounded out the first inning with a sac-fly to give Tennessee a 2-0 lead.

Tennessee didn’t infiltrate the score column again until the fourth inning, but the Vols did not mind. Gregg recommenced the festivities with a three-run homerun to right field. The fifth inning inevitably stopped the game short for the Tigers, as the Lady Vols tallied three more runs in the inning.

After three back-to-back singles for Tennessee to start the fifth inning, junior catcher Abby Lockman brought in a run off a walk. Shortly after, sophomore outfielder Jenna Holcomb hit an RBI single, as the eighth and Memphis gave up the final run of the game on a fielding error.

Lady Vols pitcher Caylan Arnold got back into motion after a rough weekend series against Auburn last week. Arnold earned the win after pitching four innings and striking out four batters. Matty Moss stepped in to relieve Arnold for the final two batters of the game. The Tigers pitchers gave up five walks and had just one strikeout in the loss.

Tennessee cruised to victory with Gregg’s dominant performance.

“We’ve been really struggling the past few weeks, and this just gave us a momentum boost going forward,” Gregg said. “We’ve been working on some things this week, more mentally than physically.”

Tennessee got back on track with its win over Memphis after scoring just seven runs in their last seven games prior to Tuesday. The Vols will need their play to carry over to this weekend as they take on yet another ranked SEC opponent.

With three-quarters of the season in the books, Tennessee ranks ninth in the SEC standings and has just five wins over in-conference opponents on the year. The Lady Vols will need to be on their A-game as they take on No. 14 LSU in Knoxville this weekend.

The orange-and-white will hit the field on Friday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Written by Seth Raborn

Edited by Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee earns shutout win versus Skyhawks

With an in-state opponent invading Knoxville, the Volunteers looked to dispel their sister university Tuesday night. The Volunteers shut out the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 9-0 in the first game of a two-game midweek series.

The Volunteers thrived on the mound. Freshman pitcher Sean Hunley started for Tennessee, dominating in the eighth start of his young career. Hunley finished the game with a career-high 11 strikeouts and only allowed four hits on the night. With the win, he keeps his perfect 6-0 record alive this season.

“My first couple of innings were a little slower. My fastball command wasn’t there the first two innings,” Hunley said. “I feel like my slider was working, so I used that most of the time.”

Work they did. Hunley’s 11 strikeouts marked the most by a Tennessee pitcher since 2015.

The Vols had five players with a multi-hit game against the Skyhawks. The Vols garnered 14 total hits as a team. Tennessee’s offense came to life after a mediocre series against Florida last weekend.

Sophomore outfielder Justin Ammons led the way for the Vols in hitting, going 3-of-5 on the night. Ammons scored one run on the night and drove an RBI. Freshman Evan Russell continued his hot streak and scored three runs for Tennessee, which led the team.

Stellar pitching and a relentless defense helped the Volunteers to defeat UT-Martin. Senior outfielder Brodie Leftridge dove for an incredible catch early in the game to stop a run from scoring. Combined with a stellar appearance by Hunley, Tennessee remained focused and ready to take home a win from the start.

Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello commented about Leftridge’s catch, which set the tone for the rest of the game.

“It really does (set the tone). He and some of the other guys really got after it well in pregame and I think it was carryover,” Vitello said. “I’m kind of a firm believer in how you prepare is kind of reflected in the game.”

Leftridge added, “I kind of took a bad route to it but I made up for it and got to it.”

Eight of the Vols’ nine runs came in innings four through seven, as sophomore Andre Lipcius topped off Tennessee’s big day with an RBI double in the seventh inning. Catcher Benito Santiago tallied a pair of doubles in the win on Tuesday, boosting his batting average to a team-high .390 in non-conference matchups this season.

Game two of the series is set for 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday afternoon and will be televised on the SEC network.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Tennessee takes final series game against No. 1 Florida

In a chilly three game series, the Tennessee baseball team (19-14, 5-7 SEC) welcomed the top-ranked Florida Gators to Knoxville for a weekend matchup. The series marked the Volunteers’ first home series since their sweep of Alabama in March.

Game one of the series faced cancellation due to inclement weather. The first matchup took place Saturday. Florida took an early lead after scoring five runs in the second inning.

Tennessee never cut the Gators’ lead enough to mount a comeback. Florida went on to score seven runs in both the fifth and sixth innings and ultimately beat the Volunteers by a score of 22-6. Freshman Garrett Crochet got the start on the mound for Tennessee in game one but had little success. Crochet tossed for 4.1 innings while allowing 10 runs on eight hits.

“I just touched on kind of a mentality thing,” Vols head coach Tony Vitello said about his speech to his team after the game. “I think there is such a thing as too much respect for your opponent and I think that played into some things tonight.”

Sunday featured a double header in which Tennessee looked to bounce back. The orange-and-white took an early lead, scoring three runs in the first four innings, but Florida scored two runs in the fifth inning. The Gators took the lead in the top the of seventh inning.

The teams readied themselves to end the game in seven innings, so the Volunteers looked solid heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Tennessee tied the game at 4-4 going into the eighth inning, but the Vols gave up two runs off a sac-fly and an error. The Vols got one man on base but failed to match Florida, as the Gators retired the next three batters to win 6-4.

Game three of the weekend boded well for Tennessee, as the Vols finally knocked off the Gators 6-4. Junior Will Neely pitched all seven innings for Tennessee and gave up four runs and notched five strikeouts in the win over No. 1 ranked Florida.

“It felt good. I knew we needed the team to be focused on this one after the loss on Saturday and then the first loss today,” Neely said about the much-needed win for the Volunteers. “If we didn’t have that focused, it wouldn’t have turned out as well as it did.”

The last time Tennessee tallied a win over a top-ranked team also featured the Gators two years ago. Vols sophomore outfielder Justin Ammons tied his career-high in hits with four and also drove in the game-tying run on Sunday.

Tennessee’s next matchup will be against the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks for a two-game midweek series. First pitch of game one is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday night.

Written by Cole McCormick 

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics