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 

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

Schofield declares for NBA Draft, not hiring agent

Junior Tennessee basketball forward Admiral Schofield plans to put his name up for consideration in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft on June 21. However, the Illinois native did not hire an agent, meaning if he withdraws his name from the draft before May 30, he can return to the Volunteers for his senior season.

“Coach (Rick) Barnes has encouraged me to go through that process, work out for teams, and learn as much as I can about the transition from college to basketball,” Schofield said in a tweet Thursday. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to receive feedback from the NBA personnel and where I stand.”

Earlier in the season, Schofield was named second-team All-SEC and played a large part in Tennessee’s first regular season conference championship in a decade.

After the Vols 63-62 upset loss to No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago, SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams and Schofield both indicated they would be returning for the 2019 season.

“I love my teammates, I love my family. These guys are my brothers,” Schofield said. “I really feel certain I want to come back.”

Regardless, the situation proves a win-win for the 6-foot-5, 238-pound Volunteer. Schofield led Tennessee in rebounds during the 2017-18 season and finished with an average of nearly 14 points per game, the second most behind Williams.

If Schofield does choose to return to the Vols next season, Tennessee will return every player on their roster from last season except senior grad-transfer James Daniel III.

Featured image 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

South Carolina sweeps No. 2 Lady Vols

Tennessee went into its weekend series with No. 15 South Carolina on a 22-game win streak. However, after falling in the first game Friday, the Lady Vols never fully recovered from their lost momentum. The Gamecocks swept the series. The last time Tennessee faced a sweep, the Vols dropped a 2016 series against first-ranked Florida.

In the first game between the Volunteers and South Carolina, Tennessee fell by a score of 8-7 to drop its second game of the season. After jumping out to a 7-3 lead in the top of the fifth inning, the Lady Vols quickly gave away their lead by allowing five unanswered runs over the final three innings.

A homerun by outfielder Tiara Duffy sparked the Gamecocks’ run, as they cut the Tennessee lead to 7-5. Infielders Mackenzie Boesel and Jana Johns both homered to right and center field respectively over the next two innings to tie the game up. The final score came from Kenzi Maguire off a wild pitch, giving South Carolina an 8-7 victory and snapping the Lady Vols’ winning streak.

Tennessee dropped its second game to the Gamecocks Saturday by a score of 4-5.
After going down by two runs early on, the Vols stormed back in the third inning and scored four unanswered runs to take a 4-2 lead in the top of the third inning. The Lady Vols couldn’t keep the lead, as they allowed three unanswered runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Sophomore Caylan Arnold received her first loss of the season on the mound for Tennessee and dropped to 13-1 on the year. Arnold and junior Matty Moss gave up five earned runs and six hits in Saturday’s loss.

The Volunteers started out hot on Sunday, jumping out to a 5-2 lead, but the Gamecocks came out with a vengeance in the bottom of the third inning.

South Carolina left fielder Kennedy Clark doubled to right field to bring in two runs. The Gamecocks backpacked off Clark and finished with eight runs in the inning. South Carolina took a 10-5 lead. Arnold received her second loss of the season for Tennessee.

Freshman Gabby Sprang pitched two innings for the orange-and-white and allowed just two runs in three innings. Moss gave up six runs in 1.2 innings and allowed five hits from the Gamecocks.

The Lady Vols will be back in action on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET to kick off a home series against Georgia.

Written by Caleb Souders 

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics