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 come up short against Tennessee Tech

Tennessee welcomed the No. 21 Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles for a midweek matchup inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The game, originally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, took place Wednesday following inclement weather.

Even with an extra day to prepare, the Volunteers fell short to the Golden Eagles 7-6. Tennessee Tech won 26 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation.

Sophomore left-hander Will Heflin got the start for Tennessee. He pitched four innings and allowed three runs on five hits. Heflin also struck out two batters in his performance in a tough outing.

The orange-and-white fell early in the game after allowing three runs through the first four innings. Freshman outfielder Zach Daniels and senior catcher Benito Santiago scored in the bottom of the fourth inning to spark the Vols comeback and near win.

An Evan Russell RBI double in the fifth inning brought home Pete Derkay, which cut the lead to 6-3. Russell eventually scored on an errant throw from the Tennessee Tech shortstop. Daniels hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, cutting the lead to 7-6. However, Tennessee’s efforts fell short as the Golden Eagles quieted Tennessee’s bats for the final two innings.

Though his outing ended in a loss, right-hander Zach Linginfelter pitched four innings and only allowed one run on four hits. He struck out eight batters for the Vols. His eight strikeouts tied a career best.

“It’s tough but I thought we fought the whole time,” Linginfelter said about his team’s performance. “They’re a good team. We’re going to have to beat teams like that.”

Tennessee Head Coach Tony Vitello expressed irritation following the loss.

“The whole day was frustrating. It was frustrating that we didn’t get to play yesterday,” Vitello said. “You have goofy stuff going on with calls and you have a potent offense over there. Call it strange, call it frustrating, call it weird, it’s all a loss.”

The Vols travel to Athens, Georgia next to take on the Bulldogs in a three-game weekend series. Game one of the series is set for 7 p.m. ET on Friday night.

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 

 

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 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 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