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

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 

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

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