Tennessee takes final series game against No. 1 Florida

In a chilly three game series, the Tennessee baseball team (19-14, 5-7 SEC) welcomed the top-ranked Florida Gators to Knoxville for a weekend matchup. The series marked the Volunteers’ first home series since their sweep of Alabama in March.

Game one of the series faced cancellation due to inclement weather. The first matchup took place Saturday. Florida took an early lead after scoring five runs in the second inning.

Tennessee never cut the Gators’ lead enough to mount a comeback. Florida went on to score seven runs in both the fifth and sixth innings and ultimately beat the Volunteers by a score of 22-6. Freshman Garrett Crochet got the start on the mound for Tennessee in game one but had little success. Crochet tossed for 4.1 innings while allowing 10 runs on eight hits.

“I just touched on kind of a mentality thing,” Vols head coach Tony Vitello said about his speech to his team after the game. “I think there is such a thing as too much respect for your opponent and I think that played into some things tonight.”

Sunday featured a double header in which Tennessee looked to bounce back. The orange-and-white took an early lead, scoring three runs in the first four innings, but Florida scored two runs in the fifth inning. The Gators took the lead in the top the of seventh inning.

The teams readied themselves to end the game in seven innings, so the Volunteers looked solid heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Tennessee tied the game at 4-4 going into the eighth inning, but the Vols gave up two runs off a sac-fly and an error. The Vols got one man on base but failed to match Florida, as the Gators retired the next three batters to win 6-4.

Game three of the weekend boded well for Tennessee, as the Vols finally knocked off the Gators 6-4. Junior Will Neely pitched all seven innings for Tennessee and gave up four runs and notched five strikeouts in the win over No. 1 ranked Florida.

“It felt good. I knew we needed the team to be focused on this one after the loss on Saturday and then the first loss today,” Neely said about the much-needed win for the Volunteers. “If we didn’t have that focused, it wouldn’t have turned out as well as it did.”

The last time Tennessee tallied a win over a top-ranked team also featured the Gators two years ago. Vols sophomore outfielder Justin Ammons tied his career-high in hits with four and also drove in the game-tying run on Sunday.

Tennessee’s next matchup will be against the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks for a two-game midweek series. First pitch of game one is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday night.

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

South Carolina sweeps the Vols

After the Tennessee softball team faced a shutout by South Carolina last weekend, the Vols baseball team sought a chance for vengeance. However, they met the same fate as the Lady Vols. The Gamecocks swept the Vols by a combined score of 18-6 in the weekend series.

Errors plagued the Vols in game one on Thursday.

“I thought having four mistakes in the first inning that were pretty obvious to see cost us,” Tennessee Head Coach Tony Vitello said. “From there it’s hard to come back.”

On Thursday, the Vols lost by the score of 6-1 at Founders Park in Columbia, South Carolina. Freshman Garrett Crochet started for Tennessee on the bump, pitching four innings and allowing six runs on seven hits. South Carolina sounded on the scoreboard early, after ringing in three runs in the first inning.

The Volunteers first run of the game didn’t come until the eighth inning off a single from infielder Brandon Chinea. Gamecocks pitcher Adam Hill threw a no-hitter through five innings and notched four strikeouts in the win.

Game two resulted in a similar fashion for the orange-and-white, as they fell 6-2 on Friday. The Vols struggled to get their bats going again. They tallied seven hits on the day but didn’t bring in their first run until the sixth inning. Tennessee had runners in scoring position in the first and third inning but failed to capitalize.

Sophomore Garrett Stallings took the mound for the Volunteers and allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings of work. Sophomore outfielder Justin Ammons recorded each of Tennessee’s two runs on the evening. South Carolina once again found a solid foundation in pitching, as Cody Morris dealt six innings for five strikeouts and one earned run in the win.

“We didn’t really capture the momentum, I think that we captured the essence of what we’re trying to do which is play hard,” Vitello said after the loss on Friday. “That’s all we can ask from them, to show up and compete the way they did.”

The Volunteers looked to bounce back in game three, but the Gamecocks got the best of them once again on Saturday. In the 6-3 loss, Vols junior pitcher Will Neely allowed two runs on seven hits in his five innings on the mound.

Tennessee found all its runs in the fourth inning, as sophomore infielder Andre Lipcius and freshman designated hitter Evan Russell combined for three RBI’s.

In the seventh inning, Tennessee had the bases loaded with two outs to give the Vols a convincing lead but struck out to end the frame. Ammons shined as the one bright spot for Tennessee in the tough series against the Gamecocks, as he went 3-for-9 from the plate over the weekend and scored three runs. Ammons also reached base nine times and drew four walks.

The Volunteers’ four-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt. Tennessee will look to end its losing streak against Belmont on April 3. After their midweek game against the Bruins, the Vols will host the Florida Gators for a three-game weekend series in Knoxville. First pitch for the game against Belmont is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

 

Tennessee baseball takes season-opening series at Memphis

Tennessee got off to a quick start to the season this weekend, riding the hot bats of returning players and young arms to take a weekend series 2-1 over Memphis in West Tennessee.

Vols jump out early, hold on for 8-5 win in season opener

Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano was clear on the message to his team after the Vols’ 8-5 win over Memphis to begin the season.

“I told them before the game: ‘It’s game one,'” Serrano said. “I’m happy for them … but I don’t want them to be satisfied.”

After jumping out to a 7-1 lead through four innings, Tennessee held off the Tigers to get its first win of the season.

The Vols started four freshman in the opening day lineup, and all four recorded a hit. Freshman Andre Lipcius, who started at first base, registered the Vols’ first hit and RBI of the year in a two-run first inning. After senior Jeff Moberg was hit by a pitch and senior Jordan Rodgers walked, a Memphis error scored Moberg and put two men on for Lipcius. The freshman responded in kind, delivering a single to bring home Rodgers and give Tennessee the 2-0 lead.

The Vols opened things up in the fourth inning, this time from some familiar faces. Moberg opened the inning’s scoring with an RBI single. Junior catcher Benito Santiago followed with a two-run triple before Rodgers homered to extend Tennessee’s lead to 7-1. The Vols’ only other run came in the following inning on another Moberg RBI single.

Senior Hunter Martin got the start on the mound for Tennessee in the opener, throwing 6.0 innings of three-hit ball and allowing just three earned runs in his first win of the season. Sophomore Daniel Vasquez followed with 1.1 innings pitched, allowing a run on three hits before being pulled for freshman Will Heflin. Heflin closed out the last two outs of the seventh inning, setting up fellow freshman Garrett Stallings to finish the final two to seal the win.

Vols’ offense stymied during 4-1 loss in game two

Tennessee couldn’t overcome a talented duo of Memphis pitchers in game two, managing just five hits for the game.

“We were sloppy in some at bats,” Serrano said. “We didn’t hit a lot of positive outs to opposite field … in the end of the day, that’s a negative.”

Things started out better than that for the Vols, however. Moberg, the game’s second batter, hit his second career homerun to give the Vols their only run for the day. Moberg hit .415 in 16 games last season before tearing his ACL and missing the remainder of the year.

Tennessee got two other hits in the opening inning, but couldn’t turn back-to-back singles by Rodgers and freshman Justin Ammons into runs after Rodgers was thrown out at the plate to end the half-inning. The Vols put together just two more hits in the following eight innings: a single by Lipcius and and infield single by transfer Reggie Southall.

Junior Zach Warren started for the Vols and took the loss, despite allowing just two runs on four hits in 4.0 innings pitched. Freshman Zach Lingenfelter pitched the final four innings, allowing just three more hits, including a two-run homer in the eight inning to ice things for Memphis.

Tennessee bats return for 10-0 series-clinching win

Tennessee bounced back from Saturday’s five-hit performance by putting up a staggering 18 hits and 10 runs on Sunday to clinch the series against Memphis in the Vols’ first three-game series at the Tigers since 1981.

“I’m proud of the whole team for coming back out after a tough loss last night and clinching the series,” Serrano said.

Similar to game one, Tennessee opened the scoring quickly. The Vols poured in seven second-inning runs on eight hits — six of which came with two outs. Lipcius doubled to open the inning. Two batters later, Dom Thornton followed with a double of his own to bring in Lipcius and open the scoring.

After a sacrifice bunt put the Vols’ in a two-out situation, the hits kept on coming. Junior Brodie Leftridge doubled to score Thornton, and Moberg followed with a single to score Leftridge and move Tennessee’s lead to 3-0. After a pair of wild pitches moved Moberg to third base and Ammons walked, Rodgers knocked the Vols’ fourth double of the inning to score Moberg and move Ammons to third.

After a pitching change, Santiago’s RBI single scored both Ammons and Rodgers to extend the lead to 6-0 before freshman Pete Derkay later singled home Santiago to put Tennessee up 7-0.

A Thornton RBI single added a run the Vols’ lead in the seventh before Lipcius’ fourth hit, another double, scored the final two runs for Tennessee in the eight inning. Lipcius and Rodgers both tallied 4-for-5 hit totals on the day.

On the defensive side of things, sophomore Will Neely’s one-hit, six-inning pitching performance kept Memphis from even hinting at a comeback. Neely registered the win, but was followed by Stallings, freshman Andrew Schultz and senior Jon Lapinski, who each pitched an inning in relief and combined to allow just one hit.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee’s offense flutters in loss to Western Kentucky

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The Tennessee Volunteers struggled to generate a spark against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

Western Kentucky (8-4) blanked Tennessee 6-0 in Tuesday’s matchup at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Led by four hits, two runs, and two RBIs from leadoff hitter Steven Kraft, the Hilltoppers’ offensive attack was more than enough to secure the victory.

Tennessee’s struggles began in the second inning when starting pitcher Daniel Vazquez allowed two runs. Two more runs were scored by Western Kentucky one inning later off of two Volunteer errors. The Hilltopers tacked on one run apiece in the sixth and eighth innings.

After averaging nearly 10 runs per game over the first ten games, Tennessee’s offense had its worst performance of the season. The Vols amassed only five hits on the night—led by outfielder Chris Hall (2-for-4)—and none of those came after the sixth inning. A double by Hall in the first inning was the team’s only extra-base hit of the night. In total, Tennessee left six men on base for the game, and no runner advanced past second base.

Tennessee (7-4) will look to bounce back when they travel to ETSU on Wednesday to face the Buccaneers at 6 p.m. in Thomas Stadium.

The Volunteers will return to Knoxville on Friday where they will begin a three-game series against UC Irvine.

Featured image by Ben Ozburn

Edited by David Bradford

Vols’ hot bats scorch Cincinnati early, win home opener 7-1

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After sweeping its three-game series in the Grand Canyon Classic, Tennessee (6-1) posted a strong start in its home opener on Wednesday afternoon.

The Vols led off with a bang and never looked back, defeating the Cincinnati Bearcats 7-1.

Freshman Daniel Vasquez got the call on the mound for the first time in his career. He only allowed two hits and a single run while striking out seven batters.

Cam Alldred started the game for the Bearcats, but was the first of six pitchers used by Cincinnati. Alldred didn’t force a single out and allowed five earned runs in the first inning.

Tennessee pitched fairly well throughout the game, but what really blew this game open for the Vols was the offensive performance right from the start.

Tennessee’s first run came when Vincent Jackson was hit by a pitch. Jordan Rodgers followed with a base-clearing triple, making the score 4-0. Rodgers ended up going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Daniel Neal’s sacrifice fly allowed Rodgers to score the Vols’ fifth run of the inning. Rodgers would reach home again in the third inning on a passed ball, and Max Bartlett scored the seventh and final run for Tennessee off a Nick Senzel single.

One bright spot for the Bearcats was the home run that Ryan Noda blasted over the right- field fence in the top of the fifth inning, but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the red-hot bats of Tennessee.

The Bearcats also stretched their pitching staff, using six pitchers compared to Tennessee’s four.

Alldred began, but Clayton Colvin, Jack Bergren, Jared Yoakam, Chris Gang, and Cal Jarrett each took the mound for Cincinnati.

Tennessee’s pitching staff ended up allowing only four hits and a single earned run with 13 strikeouts on 33 batters faced.

Tennessee will look to continue their hot start during the Keith LeClair Classic on Friday, facing the Maryland Terrapins, East Carolina Pirates, and Southeastern Louisiana Lions in Greeneville, N.C., before returning to Knoxville.

First pitch for the Vols’ next home game is set for March 8 at 6 p.m. ET, where they will take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Lindsay Nelson Stadium.

Featured image by Wade Rackley

Edited by David Bradford