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 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

Tennessee blasts Western Carolina 17-3

Coming off  a series sweep against SEC foe Alabama, Tennessee (17-9) stretched its winning streak to four wins with a dominant performance over Western Carolina. The Vols traveled to Cullowhee, North Carolina for a Tuesday night matchup with the Catamounts, logging 16 hits to coast to a 17-3 win.

The Volunteers won the previous matchup against Western Carolina, beating them 5-0 March 14. Tennessee now leads the series 22-7 against the Catamounts all time.

Tennessee started off hot, as the Vols scored four runs in the first inning, three runs in the second and three more runs in the third inning. The Vols ultimately scored 10 runs before the Catamounts tallied their first run. Sitting at a comfortable lead early in the game, the orange-and-white shifted to cruise control for the rest of the game.

A combined four homeruns fueled Tennessee in its best offensive game of the season. Right fielder Justin Ammons, second baseman Jay Charleston, catcher Nico Mascia and outfielder Zach Daniels all hit home runs in Tuesday’s game.

Charleston drove the scoring, hitting a homerun in the first inning that brought Ammons home. Ammons followed with a homerun in the third inning, while Daniels and Mascia homered in the fourth and fifth innings.

The last time that team notched over four home runs, the Vols face ETSU in 2015. The win also marked the largest win margin for the orange-and-white since 2015 when they defeated Grand Canyon 25-8.

Freshman starting pitcher Sean Hunley gave the Volunteers a crisp five innings of work. Hunley finished the day the win and four strikeouts, while giving up eight hits and only one earned run.

Mascia tied the school record for runs in a single game with five on the night. The redshirt sophomore and Knoxville native finished the day with four hits and three RBI’s, along with his five runs and solo homerun.

“It went well. We just listen to the coaches and what the coaches had a plan for us,” Mascia said about his historic performance. “It was good to come out and get the bats going, and hopefully we can carry that into this weekend.”

The next test for Tennessee comes against South Carolina for a three-game series. The Vols will travel to Columbia this weekend in hopes to keep their win streak alive. Game one of the series is set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcasted on ESPNU. The final two games of the series will be shown on the SEC Network.

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

Tennessee falls to ETSU in midweek contest

After the opening weekend of SEC play, Tennessee returned home to Lindsey Nelson Stadium to take on the ETSU Buccaneers (11-6). The Volunteers (13-9) lost their second matchup with the Bucs by a score of 9-6 on Tuesday night. The orange-and-white lost the first contest against ETSU March 3 by a score of 10-9.

After a strong start by freshman Sean Hunley on the mound, Tennessee got its bats going early, driving in four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore shortstop Andre Lipcius drove in second baseman Jay Charleston for the first score of the game. Freshman left fielder Brandon Trammell rounded out the first inning with a three-run homerun to give the Vols a comfortable 4-0 lead.

Despite a strong first inning, the Volunteers struggled for the rest of the game. Charleston drove in the two final runs for Tennessee in the fourth and sixth innings, scoring senior Brodie Leftridge. Charleston finished the game with two RBI’s on 4-of-5 hitting from the plate.

Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello hesitates to use the word “revenge” when competing against a team for a second time following a loss.

“We don’t use that word at all,” Vitello said. “We needed to come here and play better and get Sunday’s loss out of our mind.”

Hunley pitched four innings and struck out five batters. He allowed seven hits and three runs on the night. His streak of more than 22 scoreless innings pitched snapped in the third inning with a three-run homerun from the Bucs.

Sophomore Will Heflin replaced Hunley for the Vols in the fourth inning. Heflin gave up five runs in just two innings of work. He ultimately picked up the loss in Tuesday’s game.

Vitello raved about Trammell after he logged three RBI’s in two hits.

“He was great, and I think he was great in pregame,” Vitello said. “I thought he had a little extra bounce in his step and was walking with his chest out instead of being hesitant.”

Tennessee gave up four runs in the seventh inning after multiple errors. ETSU scored three unearned runs without tallying a hit in the inning.

Jay Charleston attributed the errors to fatigue.

“I think we might have come out a little tired from the weekend,” Charleston said about the defensive miscues and lack of focus.

Tennessee opens its SEC home schedule with Alabama this weekend. The three-game series is set to start at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday night.

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