Vols drop weekend series at No. 20 Georgia

In a three-game weekend series, the Tennessee Volunteers baseball team (25-21, 8-13 SEC) traveled to Athens to take on the No. 20 ranked Georgia Bulldogs (30-14, 12-9 SEC). The Bulldogs got the best of the Vols in the first two games of the series, but Tennessee took home a win in the series finale on Sunday.

Game one of the series, Sean Hunley got the nod for the Volunteers on the mound. In 3.2 innings of work, Hunley gave up three runs on five hits while striking out two batters. Hot bats from the Bulldogs ultimately ended Hunley’s day early. Andrew Shultz, Redmond Walsh and Donovan Benoit replaced Hunley on the mound for the remainder of the game. Shultz ultimately picked up the loss for Tennessee, as Georgia went on to win game one 8-6.

Saturday’s game held the same outcome for the Vols, with Georgia taking game two and the series with a 12-4 thumping of the orange-and-white. Garrett Stallings got the start in game two for Tennessee, after he pitched four innings and allowing eight runs on 10 hits. Stallings also struck out one batter in his performance.

Much like game one, hot bats for the Bulldogs were too much for the Volunteers to overcome. With 14 hits in the game and scoring four runs in the second and fourth innings, Georgia put the game too far out of reach for Tennessee to overcome. The Vols would get their revenge in game three at Foley Field.

In Sunday’s extra inning classic, Tennessee went on to defeat the Bulldogs 6-5. Junior Will Neely would get the start on Sunday for the Vols, as he pitched 5.2 innings while allowing three runs on six hits. Freshman Garrett Crochet would replace Neely and pick up the win for Tennessee. Crochet pitched 4.1 innings and retired four batters in the win against the Bulldogs.

The Volunteers dominated the first four innings of game three, as they scored five runs in the first four innings. However, Georgia came back and tied it up in the bottom of the ninth inning at 5-5 and sent the game into extra innings. A Justin Ammons single to right field would bring home Jay Charleston to give Tennessee a 6-5 lead and ultimately win the matchup with the Bulldogs.

“Standard procedure for Will (Neely). We just got done telling the team that he’s a warrior,” said Volunteers head coach Vitello about Neely. “You wouldn’t know it if you weren’t watching the game, but he’s a competitor and that’s the type of effort you get from him every time.”

The next test for Tennessee will be at home on May 1 against the Morehead State Eagles. First pitch for Tuesday’s game is set for 6:30 p.m. ET inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.

Written by Cole McCormick 

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball drops series finale to UNC-Greensboro

Tony Vitello’s young Tennessee baseball team couldn’t complete its first sweep of the season on Sunday afternoon, as the Vols (4-3) fell to UNC-Greensboro, 3-2.

Despite the loss, the Vols were still able to pick up their first series win under Vitello this weekend thanks to victories over the Spartans (4-3) on Friday and Saturday.

“You had two evenly matched teams,” Vitello said following the loss. “It pains me to say it because I want to be better than our opponents, but it’s a well-coached team. They have different strengths than we do. Their defense in my opinion is what kept them in the game and early in the series.”

With the bats cold for both teams on a dreary Sunday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, junior Will Neely turned in an impressive performance against the Spartans. A week following his first outing of the season in which he allowed five runs against Maryland, the Knoxville native only allowed one run in five innings of work.

The lone run Neely allowed came in the top of the first inning on an Andrew Moritz sac fly that allowed Austin Embler to score who reached on a lead-off double. Neely settled in after the run scored, striking out four in his second appearance of the year.

“The game slowed down for him,” Vitello said of Neely’s performance. “He’s a guy that’s got experience for us and he will continue to log innings for us.”

Freshman Garrett Crochet relieved Neely to start the sixth. Despite allowing two home runs that proved to be the difference in the game, Crochet turned in another impressive performance. The southpaw struck out three in four innings of work but picked up his first loss of the season.

In the top of the third inning, Tennessee shortstop Andre Lipcius lined out to left, driving in Zach Daniels to tie the game at 1-1.

Neither team was able to break the tie in the fourth or the fifth. That is until UNCG left fielder Dillon Stewart took over the game. In the top of the sixth, Stewart hit a home run to right to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead.

In his next at-bat, Stewart extended the Spartans lead to 3-1 on a solo homer to center field. The redshirt-senior finished 2-for-4 on the day with a pair of homers and RBIs.

“It’s about the pitches we are making,” Vitello said when asked about giving up multiple home runs to Stewart. “One of the at bats today was 10 pitches and the more a guy sees off you, the better he’s going to hit you. The really strong players will make you pay if you make bad pitches.”

Daniels was the lone bright spot for a Vols offense that was 0-for-10 at the plate with runners in scoring position on Sunday. The freshman finished the day 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the ninth that cut the Spartans the lead to 3-2.

After starting the season 0-for-11, Daniels is now batting .357 with a team-high three home runs.

Tennessee is back in action on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon for a pair of midweek games. The Vols will face Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday before turning around and facing Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Wednesday. Both games are slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee defeats in-state foe Lipscomb for second straight win

Lipscomb (2-2) scored runs in five of the nine innings on Tuesday afternoon, but was unable to pull off the win in Lindsey Nelson Stadium over Tennessee (2-2). The Vols were propelled by a huge third inning performance that included six runs and a grand slam.

Freshman Sean Hunley got off to a hot start in his first career start for Tennessee, striking out two of the first three batters he faced to start the game.

Two walks put the outfield duo of Jay Charleston and Justin Ammons in scoring position for the Vols to start the bottom of the first inning. First baseman Pete Derkay and Andre Lipcius kicked off the scoring for Tennessee, both coming up with an RBI single to give Tennessee an early 2-0 lead through one inning.

Hunley cooled off quickly in the second inning following his fast start. Lipscomb’s Josh Martinez sent a ball deep to left field for a solo home run to give the Bisons their first run of the game. Still, Hunley was able to gather himself and stop the bleeding despite Lipscomb having two runners on base.

Lipscomb finally evened the score at 2-2 in the third inning after Zeke Dodson tallied an RBI on a fielder’s choice.

The tables turned in the bottom of the third inning, as Tennessee pulled away again with a two-run single to right field with the bases loaded from second basemen Wyatt Stapp. Then, with the bases loaded once again, center fielder Zach Daniels picked up his first hit of the season on a grand slam to deep left field to give the Vols an 8-2 lead through three innings.

“It was exciting… I think he would’ve taken anything at that point,” said Vitello. “He came up to the office yesterday and said he wanted to play, he believes in himself. So if he believes in himself, I do too,”

Lipscomb answered quickly in the top of the fourth inning with an RBI double from Tevin Symonette, who narrowed the Tennessee lead to just 8-3. Vitello and the Volunteers took Hunley out with one out and two men in scoring position as fellow freshman Garrett Crochet took over the mound. Crochet finished the fourth inning with a 6-4-3 double play to escape loaded bases from Lipscomb.

The good fortune didn’t last long for Crochet, as Dodson hit a line-drive home run over the left field wall in the fifth inning to cut the Tennessee lead to 8-4. However, Crochet was able to notch a strikeout and retire the final two batters to escape the inning.

Despite the loss, the Bisons scored in four of the first five innings and four straight innings from the second to fifth inning. However, Crochet and the Volunteers ended that in the sixth inning. The first inning that neither team scored finally came in the seventh inning.

Lipscomb got back on the board in the top of the seventh inning with an RBI double from Dodson to cut the Tennessee lead to just three runs. After three innings, Crochet was replaced by junior pitcher Daniel Vasquez to close out the game. Crochet recorded three strikeouts, two hits and two earned runs in his time on the mound.

The Volunteers failed to score in their last six innings, but it was still enough to finish off the Bisons by a score of 8-5 on Tuesday afternoon.

“First off, I don’t know what kind of trademark I want to leave on this place, but I don’t want it to be one where we don’t know what to do when the ball is put in play,” said Vitello. “There’s a lot of things that winning programs do, and we have to implement those things. The faster we do, the better off we’ll be.”

Edited by Ben McKee 

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics