Tennessee are off to the second best start under Coach Serrano as they open SEC play this weekend against South Carolina. Only the 2014 season, where they started 15-1, did Tennessee enter SEC play with a better record than their current 12-2. The Vols wrapped up their final tune up game Wednesday night by crushing Austin Peay 18-4.
The game did not start well for the Vols, as Connor Darling gave up a three run home run after a single and walk in the first inning. APSU would add another run in the third on an RBI single off Zach Linginfelter. The Vols would get one run back in the bottom of the frame on a Jeff Moberg RBI single. They then loaded the bases with only one out but could not get another run across. Another Vol would score in the fifth after a Justin Ammons bases loaded walk but again the Vols left them loaded after two straight outs.
The offense would finally awaken in the sixth inning as six runs would score on four hits, three walks, and a hit batter. Pete Derkay led off the inning with a homer and Benito Santiago recorded two RBIs on a bases clearing triple. Jordan Rodgers and Andre Lipcius would both add RBI singles in the inning.
The next inning saw seven more runs score. Dom Thornton scored the first run of the inning on an error. Brodie Leftridge hit his second career home run to score two more. Pete Derkay got an RBI on a bases loaded hit batter, followed by a Max Bartlett RBI single, a Matt Waldren RBI walk, and a Brandon Chinea sacrifice fly.
The final three runs of the night would score in the eighth inning, as Pete Derkay, Bartlett, and Waldren all drove in another run each.
A total of nine Volunteers would take the mound while another fifteen would see a plate appearance or play in the field.
South Carolina leads the all-time series with the Vols 58-36. The Gamecocks have won eleven of the last twelve series, with only the last series meeting in Knoxville (2015) going to the Vols. Last season saw USC sweep the Vols in Columbia 7-6, 7-4, and 4-3.
The Gamecocks are coming off a weekend series victory at home against Michigan State. They won the first two games 3-2 and 5-2 before the final game was canceled due to weather.
Tennessee will finish its home stand next week as it hosts Marshall on Wednesday before travelling to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a three game SEC series.
#24 Tennessee Volunteers (12-2) vs #7 South Carolina Gamecocks (11-5)
Date: Friday-Sunday March 17-19, 2017
First Pitch: 7 p.m. ET Friday, 2 p.m. ET Saturday, 2 p.m. ET Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, Knoxville, TN
TV: SEC Network Bases Loaded (Friday) and ESPNU (Sunday)
Stream: SEC Network+ for all three games
Live Audio: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on UTSports
Live Stats: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on GameTracker
Probable Starting Pitchers:
UT RHP Hunter Martin (3-1, 3.68 ERA) vs SC RHP Adam Hill (0-2, 1.56 ERA)
UT LHP Zach Warren (2-1, 3.44 ERA) vs SC RHP Wil Crowe (3-0, 2.25 ERA)
UT RHP Will Neely (1-0, 4.91 ERA) vs SC TBA