The Vols are coming off of their third winning weekend this season after taking two games from UC Irvine in Knoxville. They have moved to 10-5 on the season and are looking for one more out of conference win tonight at UNC Asheville before SEC play starts this weekend. Tonight's game will be at McCormick Field, home of the Asheville Tourists.
Tennessee jumped on UC Irvine early last Friday, taking the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st on an RBI fly out by Nick Senzel. Senzel added two more RBIs in UT's five run third inning to help extend the lead. Irvine responded with a run in the 4th on a single and RBI double. Senzel picked up his fourth RBI in the 4th and came home on a two RBI triple for Jordan Rodgers to push UT's lead to 9-1. The Vols added another three runs in the 6th for the 12-1 final score. Zach Warren was outstanding again for the Vols, allowing 6 hits, 1 run, and 1 walk in 6 innings with 5 strikeouts.
Saturday saw the Vols play a double header due to inclement weather on Sunday. Hunter Martin got the start for the Vols in the first game but would not finish out the first inning after giving up one run on three hits and a walk. Andy Cox entered with the bases loaded and escaped on a ground ball to third. Cox dodged another bases loaded jam in the 2nd before surrendering a run in the third on an RBI fly out. Tennessee's bats came alive in the bottom of that frame though, as they plated seven runs on five hits. Keston Hiura responded for Irvine with a two run shot in the 4th to close the gap to 7-4 before Nick Senzel's homer in the bottom of the 4th pushed the lead back to 4. Tennessee added another 6 runs in the 8th, including a three run home run from Jordan Rodgers, as they cruised to the 14-4 victory.
The bats stayed quiet for the Vols in the second game of the double header as they managed only seven hits and no runs. They had loaded the bases in the bottom of the second inning with no outs but two straight strikeouts and a line drive to short ended the Volunteer threat. Irvine took the lead in the 3rd on an RBI fly out and extended it with an RBI single. Tennessee had runners on in the 8th and 9th but were unable to get them home and fell 2-0.
Tennessee leads the all time series against UNCA 23-7, however three of Asheville's wins have came in the last eight meetings. The teams met once last season on May 12th in Knoxville, which saw Tennessee win 4-3 on a walk off RBI double by Nick Senzel in the 10th inning.
UNC Asheville has had a rough start to the season, as they've lost eleven of their fifteen games. This past week the Bulldogs dropped a close game at Furman on Tuesday 8-6 before travelling to Appalachian State Wednesday where they fell 8-0. They followed that up by hosting Iona College, who swept the Bulldogs in three games. The only common opponent between the Vols and Bulldogs so far this season is ETSU, who routed UNCA 9-1. The Vols beat ETSU last week 11-2 in Johnson City.
Tennessee opens up SEC play this weekend as they host Ole Miss in Knoxville followed by Tennessee Tech next Tuesday in what will be the first televised game of the season for the Vols.
Tennessee Volunteers (10-5) at UNC Asheville Bulldogs (4-11)
Date: Tuesday March 15, 2016
First Pitch: 6 p.m. ET at McCormick Field, Asheville, NC
Probable Starting Pitchers: UT RHP Eric Freeman (1-0, 3.12 ERA) vs UNCA LHP Spencer Orr (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
Players to Keep an Eye on:
|UT||RHP||Jon Lipinski||1.17||0.78||5||.120||0-0 (3)|