Vols take series over No. 14 Texas A&M

In a weekend all about Tennessee football, the Volunteers baseball team (25-17, 8-10 SEC) hosted the No. 14 ranked Texas A&M Aggies for a three-game series. After winning two of the three games, Tennessee secured the series win. Sunday’s victory marked the Vols first series win over a ranked opponent since clinching a series against Florida more than one year ago.

Tennessee freshman Sean Hunley performed dominantly in game one. In five innings of work, Hunley allowed just three runs on seven hits while also striking out five batters. Freshman pitcher Chase Wallace replaced Hunley in the sixth inning and went on to strikeout four batters, only allowing one run on two hits. The Sevierville native captured his first win of the season Friday night.

“Honestly it’s just focusing. Just focus on that next pitch,” Wallace said about the changes he made during the season to find his recent success. “Coach always says your focus isn’t there when you’re off and I really took that deeply.”

The Vols heated up their bats early, as they scored three runs in the first inning. Sophomore Pete Derkay hit an RBI single scoring sophomore Jay Charleston. Sophomore infielder Andre Lipcius homered to right center field to bring in Derkay.

After the Aggies tied the game in the fifth inning, Tennessee took the lead back in the sixth inning off a sacrifice fly from freshman Evan Russell.

Senior Brodie Leftridge homered in the seventh inning, pushing the Volunteers lead to 5-3. Derkay and sophomore Will Heflin both scored in the eighth inning, giving Tennessee a 7-4 lead, which would remain the final score.

The orange-and-white dropped game two. The Aggies scored five runs in the first inning and never looked back. Tennessee didn’t get on the scoreboard until the eighth inning, and the Vols’ chances of coming back dwindled away. Texas A&M went on to win the game 8-3.

In the final game of the weekend, Tennessee fell behind early after the Aggies scored two runs in the first inning. However, the Vols got back on track in the third inning after scoring three runs to take a one-run lead. The Aggies scored two more runs in the seventh inning, but their runs did not secure the win. Tennessee scored in the sixth and seventh inning to win the game 6-4 and clinch the series win.

Junior pitcher Will Neely pitched 5.2 innings. Freshman Garrett Crochet replaced Neely on the mound. After tossing for 2.2 innings and striking out four batters, Crochet came away with the win. Wallace replaced Crochet in the ninth inning to earn his third save of the season.

Vols Head Coach Tony Vitello commended his team on avoiding errors in the wins.
“For this team in particular, and the numbers prove it, it’s so important for us to just play catch,” Vitello said. “That’s an Omaha team that we beat.”

Tennessee’s next game will be against No. 25 Tennessee Tech on Tuesday and can be watched on SEC Network+.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/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 

Series Recap: Vols win first home series against Grand Canyon

Weather foiled multiple attempts to play Tennessee baseball’s home opener.  When it finally arrived on Friday, no bad weather or a Tennessee loss was in sight.  Pitching led the way in the Vols’ two wins over the Grand Canyon Antelopes this weekend at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Grand Canyon 1, Tennessee 4

Senior Bret Marks threw 7.2 dominant innings of one-run ball as Tennessee played a solid, consistent nine innings of baseball.  Marks’ 7.2 inning pitched and 12 strikeouts were both career highs.  He only allowed five hits and one run, a solo home run in the top of the second inning.  A.J. Simcox hit a bases-loaded single to plate a pair of runs and give the Vols the lead in the bottom of the third inning, and that was all the cushion that Marks and reliever Andy Cox would need.  Cox replaced Marks with two outs in the eighth inning and struck out the only four batters he saw.  Tennessee added a run in the seventh inning when Brodie Leftridge came around to score on a fielding error.  The Vols finished the scoring in the following inning when Christin Stewart smashed a solo home run that hit the scoreboard, giving Tennessee its fourth and final run.

Grand Canyon 1, Tennessee 0

Tennessee’s offense out-hit the Antelopes, but the Vols could not capitalize in a few key situations to put runs on the board in an impressive pitcher’s duel.  Tennessee starter Drake Owenby and Grand Canyon starter Coley Bruns each only gave up 4 hits in their respective outings.  Owenby went a career-long 8.0 innings, recording four strikeouts and only walking two men.  The lone run Owenby gave up came on a groundout in the fifth inning.  For Grand Canyon, Bruns struck out just over 6.1 innings.  Four Antelope relievers combined to give up just two hits the rest of the way.  The Vols missed a golden chance to put runs on the board in the sixth when Nick Senzel flied out to right with the bases loaded.  Tennessee moved a runner to third base again in the seventh inning but failed to get the tying run across.

Grand Canyon 1, Tennessee 7

The Vols were boosted by some offensive rhythm en route to a 7-1 win in the rubber match of the series.  Tennessee scored five runs in the sixth innings to blow open a game that was 2-0.  Brodie Leftridge reached first base on a fielder’s choice to start the rally and moved to second when Vincent Jackson followed with a walk.  A.J. Simcox knocked Leftridge and Jackson in with a single to make it a 4-0 game.  After Nick Senzel was hit by a pitch, Christin Stewart hit a two-run double to push the lead to 6 and later scored on a bunt to end the scoring at 7-0.  Kyle Serrano pitched five innings of one-hit ball, and Peter Lenstrohm and Andy Cox combined to only give up two hits in the final four frames to secure the Vols’ 7-0 win.

Edited by Maggie Jones

Series Recap: Vol Baseball drops two of three at UC Irvine

After dropping the two games of a Friday doubleheader, Tennessee baseball won the series finale to move to 4-4 overall on the season.

Tennessee 2, UC Irvine 5
The Vols struck first in the opening game of the doubleheader, but it was the Anteaters who had the last say on the score line. Tennessee opened the scoring in the 2nd inning when Nick Senzel led off with double, moved to third on a balk and scored on a wild pitch. Vols starter Bret Marks gave up only one run through five innings before a fielding error cost the Vols three crucial runs and put UC Irvine up 4-2 in the 6th inning. The Anteaters tacked on another run in the 7th and held on to the lead for the remainder of the game.

Tennessee 1, UC Irvine 2
Tennessee starter Kyle Serrano pitched 6.2 innings of solid ball, but the offense failed to string hits together, and UC Irvine swept the doubleheader on a walk-off single. Serrano did not give up a hit until the 4th inning. “I was very proud of him tonight in this kind of setting, back where he grew up with a lot of people he knows, he handled it extremely well,” said head coach Dave Serrano. Christin Stewart (1-4, 1 RBI) hit his first home run of the year to give the Vols a one-run lead after the first frame. UC Irvine tied it up in the 4th inning and loaded the bases with 1 out in the 9th on an E1 fielder’s choice. Cox struck out the Anteater’s next batter, but a single up the middle brought the winning run home.

Tennessee 12, UC Irvine 10
Tennessee tallied more hits in the finale than the team did in both Saturday games combined, and the Vols out-slugged UC Irvine to leave California with one win in the series. The Vols, led by Nick Senzel (3-4, 1 RBI) and Andrew Plunkett (2-3, 4 RBI), put runs on the board in six of the nine innings. Plunkett’s two-run homer in the 6th inning pushed Tennessee’s advantage to 10-7, but UC Irvine added to the slugfest by plating three runs in the bottom of the frame to tie it at 10. Brodie Leftridge led off the 7th with a double and scored the go-ahead run on a groundout. He scored again in the 9th after leading off with a triple and scoring on a sacrifice fly, ending the scoring and giving Tennessee a 12-10 lead, one that would remain through the final frame.

Edited by Maggie Jones