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 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

Vols drop weekend series to No. 8 Ole Miss

The young Tennessee baseball team continues to experience growing pains. After a monumental 8-6 win over eighth-ranked Ole Miss in the first series game on Friday, the Vols dropped the next two games to lose the weekend series in Oxford, Mississippi.

Despite recording the biggest win in the Tony Vitello era to start off the weekend, Tennessee (13-6) struggled to find success in the final two games of the series. Vitello knows his team faces an uphill battle, especially with the Vols excess of youth on the roster.

“Whether we’re happy with one or two (wins) or disappointed or whatever at this point, it’s moot I guess,” Vitello said. “The series is over, and we’ve got a game against a team on Tuesday that beat us on our home field … We need to be focused on that.”

Recording 10 hits in the first game against the Rebels, the orange-and-white only logged a combined nine hits in the next two games. Inconsistent bats remain one of the Vols’ biggest consistencies this season.

In the first game, the bats got hot late in the game for Tennessee. The Vols tallied six runs in the seventh inning alone.

Sophomore Andre Lipcius recorded a two-run double in the seventh inning and broke open the 2-2 tie. Senior outfielder Brodie Leftridge then launched a three-run triple with the bases loaded to bring in three more runs to end the inning.

Lipcius and Leftridge combined for five RBI’s on 5-of-9 hitting and three runs in the game. Freshman Garrett Crochet pitched 6.2 innings in the game and earned his second straight win on the season. The Vols’ win tallied their first over not only a ranked team, but also a top-10 team since April of last season, when they defeated seventh-ranked Florida.

In the second game on Saturday, Tennessee dealt with cold bats in a 7-1 loss in the Magnolia State. The Volunteers only mustered five hits. Ole Miss pitcher Brady Feigl hit a groove, as he allowed just one run and struck out nine batters in just six innings. Feigl improved to 5-0 on the mound this season after the performance.

With bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning, Tennessee missed a big opportunity to sway the game’s momentum. Justin Ammons’ solo home run remained the Vols’ only run of the evening. Garrett Stallings notched his second loss of the season on the mound, as Tennessee fell 3-1.

On Sunday, the Volunteers once again struggled from the batter’s box. They tallied just four hits in the 5-0 loss. Will Neely took the mound for Tennessee and dropped to 2-1 on the season after allowing six hits in six innings pitched.

Neely performed solidly, but Rebels pitcher James McArthur, who allowed only two hits in six innings and allowed no runs, out-dueled the Vol.

“Will, after the first hitter hits a home run, (he) really settled down,” Vitello said. “We didn’t play good enough defense behind him … Other than two pitches, he was outstanding for us.”

The Vols will return to action when they host ETSU on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET in Knoxville. Tennessee lost its last game with the Buccaneers by a score of 10-9 on March 2.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Hunley leads Vols past Western Carolina

Freshman pitcher Sean Hunley threw a complete game in Tennessee’s mid-week matchup against Western Carolina on Wednesday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Vols won 5-0 behind Hunley’s three strikeouts in Knoxville to win their fourth-straight game.

The true freshman now sits with 3-0 record on the season after his impressive shutout performance. Hunley pitched over 21 straight shutout innings for the orange-and-white.

Tennessee got its bats going early when they scored three runs in the first inning. Senior catcher Benito Santiago got the scoring started for the Volunteers with an RBI single to center field.

Sophomore Justin Ammons also earned himself an RBI after driving in a bases loaded walk, while outfielder Brodie Leftridge rounded out the first inning scoring for Tennessee with a sacrifice fly to bring a run home.

Vols freshmen Zach Daniels, Brandon Chinea and sophomore Andre Lipcius also drove in runs. Lipcius notched two hits on the day and also drove in a pair of runs. In the sixth inning, Chinea hit an RBI infield single while Daniels brought in the Chinea for the final run of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Tennessee Head Coach Tony Vitello highly praised his freshman pitcher’s dominating performance.

“It’s massive, you put him out there and he gives you a sense of calm. That improves the quality of play and decision making of everyone,” Vitello said. “It certainly helps you when you can go into the weekend with a fresh bullpen.”

Hunley commented on what his team needs to do to keep their four-game winning streak going.

“We’ve got to keep the bats hot,” Hunley said. “Continue being aggressive at the plate and keep the same defense we’ve been playing with.”

Tennessee will travel to Oxford for a three-game series against Ole Miss to open its SEC schedule. Game one of the series is set for 8 p.m. ET on Friday. The Vols look to stay hot against the No. 8 ranked Rebels and keep their four-game winning streak alive.

Santiago looks to stay focused into conference play.

“I tell them to stay focused and don’t give into what other people are saying,” Santiago said. “The game doesn’t change and that’s one thing I let them know. It’s roundball still, but with more fans. You’re playing the game of baseball.”

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball drops series finale to UNC-Greensboro

Tony Vitello’s young Tennessee baseball team couldn’t complete its first sweep of the season on Sunday afternoon, as the Vols (4-3) fell to UNC-Greensboro, 3-2.

Despite the loss, the Vols were still able to pick up their first series win under Vitello this weekend thanks to victories over the Spartans (4-3) on Friday and Saturday.

“You had two evenly matched teams,” Vitello said following the loss. “It pains me to say it because I want to be better than our opponents, but it’s a well-coached team. They have different strengths than we do. Their defense in my opinion is what kept them in the game and early in the series.”

With the bats cold for both teams on a dreary Sunday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, junior Will Neely turned in an impressive performance against the Spartans. A week following his first outing of the season in which he allowed five runs against Maryland, the Knoxville native only allowed one run in five innings of work.

The lone run Neely allowed came in the top of the first inning on an Andrew Moritz sac fly that allowed Austin Embler to score who reached on a lead-off double. Neely settled in after the run scored, striking out four in his second appearance of the year.

“The game slowed down for him,” Vitello said of Neely’s performance. “He’s a guy that’s got experience for us and he will continue to log innings for us.”

Freshman Garrett Crochet relieved Neely to start the sixth. Despite allowing two home runs that proved to be the difference in the game, Crochet turned in another impressive performance. The southpaw struck out three in four innings of work but picked up his first loss of the season.

In the top of the third inning, Tennessee shortstop Andre Lipcius lined out to left, driving in Zach Daniels to tie the game at 1-1.

Neither team was able to break the tie in the fourth or the fifth. That is until UNCG left fielder Dillon Stewart took over the game. In the top of the sixth, Stewart hit a home run to right to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead.

In his next at-bat, Stewart extended the Spartans lead to 3-1 on a solo homer to center field. The redshirt-senior finished 2-for-4 on the day with a pair of homers and RBIs.

“It’s about the pitches we are making,” Vitello said when asked about giving up multiple home runs to Stewart. “One of the at bats today was 10 pitches and the more a guy sees off you, the better he’s going to hit you. The really strong players will make you pay if you make bad pitches.”

Daniels was the lone bright spot for a Vols offense that was 0-for-10 at the plate with runners in scoring position on Sunday. The freshman finished the day 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the ninth that cut the Spartans the lead to 3-2.

After starting the season 0-for-11, Daniels is now batting .357 with a team-high three home runs.

Tennessee is back in action on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon for a pair of midweek games. The Vols will face Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday before turning around and facing Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Wednesday. Both games are slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee defeats in-state foe Lipscomb for second straight win

Lipscomb (2-2) scored runs in five of the nine innings on Tuesday afternoon, but was unable to pull off the win in Lindsey Nelson Stadium over Tennessee (2-2). The Vols were propelled by a huge third inning performance that included six runs and a grand slam.

Freshman Sean Hunley got off to a hot start in his first career start for Tennessee, striking out two of the first three batters he faced to start the game.

Two walks put the outfield duo of Jay Charleston and Justin Ammons in scoring position for the Vols to start the bottom of the first inning. First baseman Pete Derkay and Andre Lipcius kicked off the scoring for Tennessee, both coming up with an RBI single to give Tennessee an early 2-0 lead through one inning.

Hunley cooled off quickly in the second inning following his fast start. Lipscomb’s Josh Martinez sent a ball deep to left field for a solo home run to give the Bisons their first run of the game. Still, Hunley was able to gather himself and stop the bleeding despite Lipscomb having two runners on base.

Lipscomb finally evened the score at 2-2 in the third inning after Zeke Dodson tallied an RBI on a fielder’s choice.

The tables turned in the bottom of the third inning, as Tennessee pulled away again with a two-run single to right field with the bases loaded from second basemen Wyatt Stapp. Then, with the bases loaded once again, center fielder Zach Daniels picked up his first hit of the season on a grand slam to deep left field to give the Vols an 8-2 lead through three innings.

“It was exciting… I think he would’ve taken anything at that point,” said Vitello. “He came up to the office yesterday and said he wanted to play, he believes in himself. So if he believes in himself, I do too,”

Lipscomb answered quickly in the top of the fourth inning with an RBI double from Tevin Symonette, who narrowed the Tennessee lead to just 8-3. Vitello and the Volunteers took Hunley out with one out and two men in scoring position as fellow freshman Garrett Crochet took over the mound. Crochet finished the fourth inning with a 6-4-3 double play to escape loaded bases from Lipscomb.

The good fortune didn’t last long for Crochet, as Dodson hit a line-drive home run over the left field wall in the fifth inning to cut the Tennessee lead to 8-4. However, Crochet was able to notch a strikeout and retire the final two batters to escape the inning.

Despite the loss, the Bisons scored in four of the first five innings and four straight innings from the second to fifth inning. However, Crochet and the Volunteers ended that in the sixth inning. The first inning that neither team scored finally came in the seventh inning.

Lipscomb got back on the board in the top of the seventh inning with an RBI double from Dodson to cut the Tennessee lead to just three runs. After three innings, Crochet was replaced by junior pitcher Daniel Vasquez to close out the game. Crochet recorded three strikeouts, two hits and two earned runs in his time on the mound.

The Volunteers failed to score in their last six innings, but it was still enough to finish off the Bisons by a score of 8-5 on Tuesday afternoon.

“First off, I don’t know what kind of trademark I want to leave on this place, but I don’t want it to be one where we don’t know what to do when the ball is put in play,” said Vitello. “There’s a lot of things that winning programs do, and we have to implement those things. The faster we do, the better off we’ll be.”

Edited by Ben McKee 

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics