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 

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 

Vols top Middle Tennessee State 5-3 at home

Tennessee (5-3) squeaked out a 5-4 win over Middle Tennessee State at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Tuesday night. The Volunteers were led by the sophomore outfield duo of Jay Charleston and Justin Ammons, who had all five of the team’s RBI’s in the victory.

Things weren’t easy for Tennessee pitcher Daniel Vasquez to start the game, as he walked two batters and dealt a wild pitch. Still, MTSU left two men stranded on base despite forcing Vasquez to throw over 20 pitches in the long first inning. The two teams combined to throw over 60 pitches in the first inning, but neither team made a dent on the scoreboard.

It only took two pitches in the second inning for the Blue Raiders to get on the board, as right fielder Blake Benefield hit a deep solo shot to center field to make it 1-0. Vasquez managed to finish out the inning with no further damage allowed.

After walking a batter in the top of the third inning, Vasquez was taken out of the game after being looked at by the trainer. Redshirt junior Richard Jackson took the mound for the Vols, as Vasquez finished with three walks and one earned run through two innings.

“He had been sore earlier in the week, and it’s something that’s tough for us to pinpoint,” said Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello about Vasquez’s injury. “He (the trainer) didn’t have an answer for Daniel earlier in the week, so we put him out there.”

Jackson struck out his first batter but gave up two earned runs in the top of the third inning. Freshman Will Heflin took over for Jackson and finally stopped the bleeding for the Vols in the third inning, but MTSU still took a 3-0 lead. However, Tennessee was unable to answer back, as they left runners stranded in each of its first three innings.

Heflin was tested in the top of the fourth inning, as he walked and hit a batter to load the bases for the Blue Raiders. However, Heflin got out of the pinch with a ground out to second baseman Andre Lipcius.

Tennessee finally awoke out of its slumber in the fourth inning after Charleston hit a two-run double to cut the deficit to 3-2. Charleston’s rip was just the second hit for Tennessee in the game. Before Charleston’s hit, the team was 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

The Volunteers finally hit their stride in the fifth inning after Heflin delivered back-to-back strikeouts to end the top of the fifth inning. Charleston came up clutch for Tennessee once again, as he tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth with a one-run single. Ammons finally gave the Vols a 5-3 lead with a two-run triple.

“Our coach always says those are the easy RBI’s, just put the ball in play,” said Charleston. “I think that really changed the momentum of our team, it was a big boost.”

Heflin was inevitably replaced in the top of the seventh inning by Donovan Benoit. He finished with an impressive six strikeouts, two hits and just one walk allowed in four innings. However, on Benoit’s first pitch, Aaron Aucker of the Blue Raiders tallied a one-run single to cut the deficit to 5-4.

Freshman pitcher Chase Wallace replaced Benoit in the eighth inning to finish out the game for Tennessee. Wallace quickly found himself with the bases loaded and no outs for MTSU, but he got out of the jam with a strikeout and a double-play.

Wallace once again dodged a bullet in the bottom of the ninth inning, as the Blue Raiders had a man on third base with one out but failed to tie the game up.

“He’s (Wallace) is in that position because he can do what you saw,” said Vitello. “But he could’ve also made it a lot easier on himself.”

The Volunteers get back in action on Wednesday afternoon against Arkansas Pine-Bluff at 3:30 p.m. ET in Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Edited by Ben McKee

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics