Vols come up short against Tennessee Tech

Tennessee welcomed the No. 21 Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles for a midweek matchup inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The game, originally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, took place Wednesday following inclement weather.

Even with an extra day to prepare, the Volunteers fell short to the Golden Eagles 7-6. Tennessee Tech won 26 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation.

Sophomore left-hander Will Heflin got the start for Tennessee. He pitched four innings and allowed three runs on five hits. Heflin also struck out two batters in his performance in a tough outing.

The orange-and-white fell early in the game after allowing three runs through the first four innings. Freshman outfielder Zach Daniels and senior catcher Benito Santiago scored in the bottom of the fourth inning to spark the Vols comeback and near win.

An Evan Russell RBI double in the fifth inning brought home Pete Derkay, which cut the lead to 6-3. Russell eventually scored on an errant throw from the Tennessee Tech shortstop. Daniels hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, cutting the lead to 7-6. However, Tennessee’s efforts fell short as the Golden Eagles quieted Tennessee’s bats for the final two innings.

Though his outing ended in a loss, right-hander Zach Linginfelter pitched four innings and only allowed one run on four hits. He struck out eight batters for the Vols. His eight strikeouts tied a career best.

“It’s tough but I thought we fought the whole time,” Linginfelter said about his team’s performance. “They’re a good team. We’re going to have to beat teams like that.”

Tennessee Head Coach Tony Vitello expressed irritation following the loss.

“The whole day was frustrating. It was frustrating that we didn’t get to play yesterday,” Vitello said. “You have goofy stuff going on with calls and you have a potent offense over there. Call it strange, call it frustrating, call it weird, it’s all a loss.”

The Vols travel to Athens, Georgia next to take on the Bulldogs in a three-game weekend series. Game one of the series is set for 7 p.m. ET on Friday night.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn

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 blows past Belmont in weekday contest

Coming into Tuesday night’s game against Belmont, Tennessee (18-12) mourned a three-game losing streak. The Volunteers looked for their first win since March 27 against Western Carolina to revive the season. The Vols beat the Bruins 9-2 in the midweek matchup at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.

Freshman pitcher Sean Hunley got the start on the mound for Tennessee. He pitched over five innings and gave up just two runs on four hits. Hunley also struck out five batters and now stands at 5-0 on the season with a 1.85 ERA after the dominant win.

Hunley spoke about the team’s rapport and future.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Hunley said. “It gives everyone confidence in the dugout and that is a good thing. I think if we can just carry the midweek performance with the bat into the weekend, I think we can do a lot of damage.”

The Vols fell behind early in the game, but after finally getting on the board in the second inning, they couldn’t be stopped. Tennessee got its scoring going with an RBI double to left field from freshman infielder Brandon Trammell to bring in catcher Nico Mascia and third baseman Evan Russell.

Russell and sophomore outfielder Jay Charleston led the team with two hits apiece. Each notched two runs on the night. Senior designated hitter Benito Santiago blasted a two-run homerun in the sixth inning to finish off the scoring for the Vols.

Tennessee found success in midweek games this season. The orange-and-white have scored five or more runs in eight of their nine midweek games. Tennessee scored eight or more runs in five of those games. Their nine-run performance against Belmont helped to pad their numbers Tuesday night. They have lost just two weekday games this season.

After the game, Vols head coach Tony Vitello spoke about Russell and his impact on the young Volunteers team.

“I think we have gone through different stages because he has not been an everyday player for us,” Vitello said. “But now he is excited to be at the park everyday kind of knowing his name is in the lineup, and it is for now.”

 

The next test for the Vols comes this weekend against the top-ranked Florida Gators. The Gators travel to Knoxville for a three-game series, riding a seven-game winning streak. First pitch of game one is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Vols tally first SEC sweep since 2015 against Alabama

Until Sunday afternoon, Tennessee had yet to accomplish a series sweep over an opponent this season. However, the Vols (15-9) changed that by notching their first in-conference sweep since 2015 over Alabama.

After losing three straight games prior to their series with the Crimson Tide, the series sweep sets Tennessee back on track.

“I’m still kind of elated at the fact that we won a series, which is our goal, and then you throw another win in there,” Volunteers Head Coach Tony Vitello said. “It’s like having two desserts after one meal.”

Tennessee kicked off their SEC home opener in front of a crowd anxious for a Vols win. The orange-and-white got on the scoreboard early after senior outfielder Brodie Leftridge hit an RBI single to center field to bring home sophomore infielder Andre Lipcius in the first inning.

Next, Tennessee freshman Evan Russell drove an RBI single to left field in the fourth inning to score Leftridge. Russell finished with two hits and two RBI’s on the day. Alabama scored the next three runs of the game, taking a 3-2 lead heading into the top of the fifth inning.

The teams faced a tie score in the bottom of the ninth inning at 4-4. The Vols had the bases loaded with Russell at the plate. Russell drew a game-winning walk, which brought home senior catcher Benito Santiago to lift Tennessee a 5-4 win in the first game of the series.

“I was expecting to be in that certain situation,” Russell said of his patience at the plate. “I was excited about it. I knew he was going to have to come to me and he never came to me.”

Game two was originally set for Saturday night, but inclement weather pushed the game back to Sunday at noon. Sunday saw a double-header of two seven-inning games that Volunteers fans won’t soon forget.

In game two, both Tennessee and the Crimson Tide’s bats went cold. Although there were 10 total hits in the game, the teams combined for just three runs. Alabama struck first in the top of fifth inning, but the Vols got the last laugh.

Sophomore outfielder Justin Ammons scored on an error, and Russell once again drew another bases-loaded walk to score Lipcius in the sixth inning. Tennessee came out with a 2-1 victory and the series win, but they weren’t finished.

Sophomore Garrett Stallings pitched all seven innings in game two for the orange-and-white, giving up six hits and only one run. Stallings also struck out five batters in his start and moved to 4-1 on the season.

“It’s definitely a big change in the game, but every time I go out I want to pitch the whole game,” Stallings said about the unique seven-inning format. “It made it a little bit easier to do that, but I was happy we got away with the win.”

The two opponents got right back into action just one hour later for the final game of the series. Like Stallings in game two, junior Will Neely pitched a full game for Tennessee in game three. Neely struck out four batters and gave up five hits in Sunday’s win, as the stout Vols defense gave up no runs.

Tennessee scored all three runs in the game, as Santiago hit a single to center field in the first inning to bring home Lipcius. Sophomore outfielder Jay Charleston trotted in on an Alabama fielding error.

The final run came from an Ammons single, as Russell made it to home plate in the bottom of the third inning. Nothing much happened after the Vols big inning, as they won 3-0 and swept the series over Alabama.

Up next, Tennessee will face Western Carolina on the road on Tuesday. The Volunteers won their previous matchup with the Catamounts this season by a score of 5-0.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics