South Carolina sweeps the Vols

After the Tennessee softball team faced a shutout by South Carolina last weekend, the Vols baseball team sought a chance for vengeance. However, they met the same fate as the Lady Vols. The Gamecocks swept the Vols by a combined score of 18-6 in the weekend series.

Errors plagued the Vols in game one on Thursday.

“I thought having four mistakes in the first inning that were pretty obvious to see cost us,” Tennessee Head Coach Tony Vitello said. “From there it’s hard to come back.”

On Thursday, the Vols lost by the score of 6-1 at Founders Park in Columbia, South Carolina. Freshman Garrett Crochet started for Tennessee on the bump, pitching four innings and allowing six runs on seven hits. South Carolina sounded on the scoreboard early, after ringing in three runs in the first inning.

The Volunteers first run of the game didn’t come until the eighth inning off a single from infielder Brandon Chinea. Gamecocks pitcher Adam Hill threw a no-hitter through five innings and notched four strikeouts in the win.

Game two resulted in a similar fashion for the orange-and-white, as they fell 6-2 on Friday. The Vols struggled to get their bats going again. They tallied seven hits on the day but didn’t bring in their first run until the sixth inning. Tennessee had runners in scoring position in the first and third inning but failed to capitalize.

Sophomore Garrett Stallings took the mound for the Volunteers and allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings of work. Sophomore outfielder Justin Ammons recorded each of Tennessee’s two runs on the evening. South Carolina once again found a solid foundation in pitching, as Cody Morris dealt six innings for five strikeouts and one earned run in the win.

“We didn’t really capture the momentum, I think that we captured the essence of what we’re trying to do which is play hard,” Vitello said after the loss on Friday. “That’s all we can ask from them, to show up and compete the way they did.”

The Volunteers looked to bounce back in game three, but the Gamecocks got the best of them once again on Saturday. In the 6-3 loss, Vols junior pitcher Will Neely allowed two runs on seven hits in his five innings on the mound.

Tennessee found all its runs in the fourth inning, as sophomore infielder Andre Lipcius and freshman designated hitter Evan Russell combined for three RBI’s.

In the seventh inning, Tennessee had the bases loaded with two outs to give the Vols a convincing lead but struck out to end the frame. Ammons shined as the one bright spot for Tennessee in the tough series against the Gamecocks, as he went 3-for-9 from the plate over the weekend and scored three runs. Ammons also reached base nine times and drew four walks.

The Volunteers’ four-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt. Tennessee will look to end its losing streak against Belmont on April 3. After their midweek game against the Bruins, the Vols will host the Florida Gators for a three-game weekend series in Knoxville. First pitch for the game against Belmont is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

 

Vols drop weekend series to No. 8 Ole Miss

The young Tennessee baseball team continues to experience growing pains. After a monumental 8-6 win over eighth-ranked Ole Miss in the first series game on Friday, the Vols dropped the next two games to lose the weekend series in Oxford, Mississippi.

Despite recording the biggest win in the Tony Vitello era to start off the weekend, Tennessee (13-6) struggled to find success in the final two games of the series. Vitello knows his team faces an uphill battle, especially with the Vols excess of youth on the roster.

“Whether we’re happy with one or two (wins) or disappointed or whatever at this point, it’s moot I guess,” Vitello said. “The series is over, and we’ve got a game against a team on Tuesday that beat us on our home field … We need to be focused on that.”

Recording 10 hits in the first game against the Rebels, the orange-and-white only logged a combined nine hits in the next two games. Inconsistent bats remain one of the Vols’ biggest consistencies this season.

In the first game, the bats got hot late in the game for Tennessee. The Vols tallied six runs in the seventh inning alone.

Sophomore Andre Lipcius recorded a two-run double in the seventh inning and broke open the 2-2 tie. Senior outfielder Brodie Leftridge then launched a three-run triple with the bases loaded to bring in three more runs to end the inning.

Lipcius and Leftridge combined for five RBI’s on 5-of-9 hitting and three runs in the game. Freshman Garrett Crochet pitched 6.2 innings in the game and earned his second straight win on the season. The Vols’ win tallied their first over not only a ranked team, but also a top-10 team since April of last season, when they defeated seventh-ranked Florida.

In the second game on Saturday, Tennessee dealt with cold bats in a 7-1 loss in the Magnolia State. The Volunteers only mustered five hits. Ole Miss pitcher Brady Feigl hit a groove, as he allowed just one run and struck out nine batters in just six innings. Feigl improved to 5-0 on the mound this season after the performance.

With bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning, Tennessee missed a big opportunity to sway the game’s momentum. Justin Ammons’ solo home run remained the Vols’ only run of the evening. Garrett Stallings notched his second loss of the season on the mound, as Tennessee fell 3-1.

On Sunday, the Volunteers once again struggled from the batter’s box. They tallied just four hits in the 5-0 loss. Will Neely took the mound for Tennessee and dropped to 2-1 on the season after allowing six hits in six innings pitched.

Neely performed solidly, but Rebels pitcher James McArthur, who allowed only two hits in six innings and allowed no runs, out-dueled the Vol.

“Will, after the first hitter hits a home run, (he) really settled down,” Vitello said. “We didn’t play good enough defense behind him … Other than two pitches, he was outstanding for us.”

The Vols will return to action when they host ETSU on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET in Knoxville. Tennessee lost its last game with the Buccaneers by a score of 10-9 on March 2.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Hunley leads Vols past Western Carolina

Freshman pitcher Sean Hunley threw a complete game in Tennessee’s mid-week matchup against Western Carolina on Wednesday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Vols won 5-0 behind Hunley’s three strikeouts in Knoxville to win their fourth-straight game.

The true freshman now sits with 3-0 record on the season after his impressive shutout performance. Hunley pitched over 21 straight shutout innings for the orange-and-white.

Tennessee got its bats going early when they scored three runs in the first inning. Senior catcher Benito Santiago got the scoring started for the Volunteers with an RBI single to center field.

Sophomore Justin Ammons also earned himself an RBI after driving in a bases loaded walk, while outfielder Brodie Leftridge rounded out the first inning scoring for Tennessee with a sacrifice fly to bring a run home.

Vols freshmen Zach Daniels, Brandon Chinea and sophomore Andre Lipcius also drove in runs. Lipcius notched two hits on the day and also drove in a pair of runs. In the sixth inning, Chinea hit an RBI infield single while Daniels brought in the Chinea for the final run of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Tennessee Head Coach Tony Vitello highly praised his freshman pitcher’s dominating performance.

“It’s massive, you put him out there and he gives you a sense of calm. That improves the quality of play and decision making of everyone,” Vitello said. “It certainly helps you when you can go into the weekend with a fresh bullpen.”

Hunley commented on what his team needs to do to keep their four-game winning streak going.

“We’ve got to keep the bats hot,” Hunley said. “Continue being aggressive at the plate and keep the same defense we’ve been playing with.”

Tennessee will travel to Oxford for a three-game series against Ole Miss to open its SEC schedule. Game one of the series is set for 8 p.m. ET on Friday. The Vols look to stay hot against the No. 8 ranked Rebels and keep their four-game winning streak alive.

Santiago looks to stay focused into conference play.

“I tell them to stay focused and don’t give into what other people are saying,” Santiago said. “The game doesn’t change and that’s one thing I let them know. It’s roundball still, but with more fans. You’re playing the game of baseball.”

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball falls 10-2 at ETSU

Coming off an impressive series win in Gainesville against the No. 7 Florida Gators, Tuesday’s road loss to the East Tennessee State Buccaneers (15-15, 2-7 SoCon) was a letdown for Tennessee (17-13, 3-9 SEC). Simply put, the Vols put together a lackluster showing in pretty much all facets against the Bucs.

Head coach Dave Serrano wasn’t at all pleased with his team’s effort after the game. “We just weren’t very good in all areas,” he said. “We pride ourselves on pitching and defense, and we fell way short of our expectations there.”

The hits came early and often for ETSU. The Bucs got it started in the bottom half of the first when they put three runs on the board right off the bat. They followed that the next inning by putting another three spot on the board to push their lead to 6-0.

Tennessee had a chance in the fourth after a pair of singles from Dom Thornton and Brandon Chinea. However, both of the runners were left stranded on base.

ETSU then made matters worse in the fourth and fifth by adding four more runs to their score to make Tennessee’s deficit 10-0. The Bucs were able to score all of their 10 runs on the night off just 10 hits.

The Vols finally put something on the board in the sixth after a Peter Derkay walk was followed by a Thornton double. Derkay scored on a passed ball in the inning while Thornton was driven by a sacrifice fly by Chinea.

Kyle Serrano got the start for Tennessee, and the coach’s son did not last very long. Serrano only went an inning and allowed three runs, though only one was earned. The Vols went on to use five more pitchers in the contest, including the first appearance from Richard Jackson on the season.

The Vols will now try and regroup as they welcome the Auburn Tigers for a three-game series starting Thursday night.

Edited by Quinn Pilkey

Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics