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 gets revenge over ETSU

After dropping the first two meetings of the season, the Tennessee baseball team got revenge over ETSU Tuesday night. With the 6-2 victory at Thomas Field in Johnson City, the Vols improved to 22-17 on the season.

Sophomore slinger Will Heflin gave another strong performance on the mound, as he pitched six innings while only allowing four hits and no earned runs. Heflin improved his record to 4-1 after the midweek win. The Morristown-born pitcher has only given up six hits and dealt over 11 scoreless innings for Tennessee in his two starts this season.

“We knew he was going to be a guy we could count on in some capacity,” Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello said. “We’re still searching for some roles to be pinned down by some pitchers.”

Senior catcher Benito Santiago also had a big night, driving in three runners against the Buccaneers. Santiago also had two hits and scored one run. Eight separate Vols had at least one hit in the win. After his dominant performance on Tuesday, Santiago leads Tennessee in with a .407 batting average and 23 RBIs in non-conference games this season.

Sophomore outfielder Justin Ammons scored three runs on two hits. With his strong performance, Ammons has now reached base in his last 15 games. The Vols hopped out to an early 1-0 lead after Ammons drove in sophomore Pete Derkay in the first inning.

Tennessee tallied two more runs in the next inning. Freshman Wyatt Stapp drove in a run, and Brandon Trammell scored to put the Vols in a 3-0 lead in the second inning. The Volunteers threatened ETSU with the bases loaded but only came away with one run after Santiago walked to make it 4-0.

Santiago and Tennessee finished strong by driving in two runs in the ninth inning. The Buccaneers scored just two runs in the game. Excellent pitching by Heflin and solid defense by the orange-and-white never gave ETSU time to climb back into the game.

ETSU starting pitcher Daniel Sweeney had a tough night on the mound. He gave up four earned runs and nine hits in just over three innings of work. The Bucs’ other five pitchers that took to the mound on Tuesday gave up just one hit and two earned runs combined.

The next test for Tennessee will come against the Texas A&M Aggies starting Friday night. The weekend series will be played in Knoxville at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The first pitch of game one is set for 6:30 p.m. ET.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Vols smash UT-Martin to win midweek series

Tennessee (21-14) downed UT-Martin (5-25) 15-1 to win the two-game series Wednesday afternoon. Behind a hot bat from senior catcher Benito Santiago, the Vols kept the momentum going after Tuesday’s 9-0 win over the UT-Martin Skyhawks.

UT-Martin made several mistakes in the game from which Tennessee benefited. The Skyhawks recorded two errors in the game but had several wild pitches. The Volunteers got on the board first behind a wild pitch from UT-Skyhawks pitcher Dalton Westfall.

Freshman infielder Brandon Trammel came in to score with two outs on the board, giving the team a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore Pete Derkay proved to be one of the most consistent players on the Tennessee roster, as he recorded a team-best 17-straight games getting on base.

Derkay rounded for home on another wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning, giving the Vols a 3-0 lead to end the second inning.

“I just try to have a quality at bat every single time I get up there, and a quality at bat is getting on base,” Derkay said. “If I get on base, I know I can help the team.”

Santiago blew it wide open with a solo homer to left field to give Tennessee a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tennessee poured it on the Skyhawks, specifically in the bottom of the eighth inning, when they scored seven runs in the inning.

Once again, Santiago sparked the Volunteers’ scoring when he doubled to center field, bringing in sophomore Luc Lipcius and freshman Zach Daniels, giving Tennessee an 11-0 lead. Senior outfielder Leftridge then returned the favor to Santiago, bringing him home off of a single to left field and putting the team up 12-0 after eight innings of play.

Sophomore pitcher Will Heflin got his first start for the orange-and-white and did not disappoint. Heflin dealt for five innings and allowed just two hits to tally his third win of the season.

Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello was proud of how the team closed the game, as they only allowed three hits throughout the game. Especially considering Tennessee’s struggles to close out games this year.

“There’s some things we could have done better in today’s game, and yesterday,” Vitello said. “We were relaxed, but at no point were our guys not mentally prepared to play or mentally checked out, despite a couple times we got up on them pretty good.”

The Volunteers walked 14 times and recorded 12 hits. Tennessee will face LSU in Baton Rouge for a weekend series starting Friday at 8 p.m. ET.

Written by Caleb Souders

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Tennessee baseball sweeps first away series of season

In their first series away from Knoxville, Tennessee (11-6) swept the Cincinnati Bearcats (7-8) winning by a combined margin of 12-8 on the weekend. The Vols came into the series untested away from home and proved they can play no matter where their schedule takes them.

Game one came down to the wire in the second extra innings game of the season. Tennessee won 3-2 after 12 innings of play. A pitcher’s duel headlined the majority of the game. Late inning walks and hot bats carried the Volunteers to victory. Freshman Garrett Crochet pitched a career-high eight innings and struck out eight batters on the evening. Tennessee’s bullpen combined for 14 total strikeouts in the win.

Vols Head Coach Tony Vitello felt Friday’s win was one of Tennessee’s biggest of the season.

“They’re all big wins. I would classify this one as a huge one,” Vitello said. “This was a really well-played ballgame led by two great lefties who are two of the better lefties in the country, I feel.”

Game two also went to the Vols with right-hander Garrett Stallings tossing for eight innings. He struck out four batters and allowed four earned runs in the 7-5 victory. Senior Brodie Leftridge, who hit two RBI singles to tie the game up in the fourth and sixth inning, proved to be Tennessee’s Saturday hero.

Leftridge gave the key to completing the series sweep.

“Just being aggressive and not worrying about a sweep and winning the day,” Leftridge said. With a series win already completed, the Vols looked to capture a series sweep Sunday.

On the final day of the series inside Marge Schott Stadium in Cincinnati, junior Will Neely led the Volunteers. He pitched a complete game. Sophomore Justin Ammons hit an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to push Tennessee to a 2-1 win and a series sweep. Pete Derkay and Benito Santiago both reached base in game three, extending both of their hitting streaks.

“All of my pitches were working today, especially my sinker and slider,” Neely said about his success on the mound. “Both of them had really great movement on them and I was able to throw them for strikes.”

With their first series sweep of the season, the Vols turn their attention to Western Carolina. Tennessee hosts the Catamounts in Knoxville at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Volunteers begin SEC play with road trip to Oxford, Mississippi for a three-game series against Ole Miss on Friday.

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Vols split mid-week series with James Madison

The Tennessee Volunteers baseball team hosted the Dukes of James Madison University (8-5) for a midweek series in Knoxville. The Vols took the first game with a 10-1 win, while the Dukes took the second game 21-2. Tennessee moved to 8-6 on the season following the two-games series.

In game one, hot bats and string pitching led the orange-and-white to victory. Scoring seven runs in the first inning, Tennessee had a firm grasp on a win. Freshman pitcher Sean Hunley got his third start of the season. Hunley struck out six batters and pitched seven scoreless innings, tallying his second win of the season.

All nine players for the Vols had a hit, while six drove in runs Tuesday afternoon. Senior catcher and locker room leader Benito Santiago scored two runs and went 3-3 at the plate. Tennessee notched 14 hits in the win, a season high for the team.

Despite a big first inning, the Volunteers did not score another run until the bottom of the seventh inning when freshman infielder Brandon Trammell hit a two-run home run to extend the Tennessee lead to 9-0. The Vols’ final run of the game came in the bottom of the eighth inning from an Alex Sosnowski RBI groundout.

The Dukes finally got on the board in the top of the ninth inning, but time did not allow for a comeback. Tennessee finished off the first game of the series 10-1.

“You want as many of these games as possible where it’s a feel good deal,” Volunteers Head Coach Tony Vitello said. “You get to play several people and get some guys some opportunities, and see several guys have success.”

However, game two of the series proved unsuccessful for Tennessee. After a dominating performance in game one, James Madison hammered the Vols Wednesday afternoon. With five runs in the first two innings, the Dukes too Tennessee out of the contest early. The Dukes only tallied two scoreless innings in the whole game. Tennessee only scored two runs.

The Volunteers’ ultimate demise came in pitching, as they pitched a total of five players in the game. The script from game one flipped, and James Madison took advantage. First baseman Pete Derkay provided one of the only bright spots for Tennessee, when he hit a two-run RBI single in the bottom of the seventh which scored two runners. The 21-2 loss marked the worst loss for the Vols since a 1987 loss to Memphis State.

Tennessee’s next contest will be a three-game road series against Cincinnati starting March 9. SEC play begins March 16-18 when the Volunteers will travel to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Rebels of Ole Miss.

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured 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