After starting the season on the road the Vols will finally return to Lindsey Nelson Stadium tonight for their home opener against Norfolk State. Last week saw UT in California where they won a midweek match up against Loyola Marymount. They followed that up with a second place finish at the Tony Gwynn Classic, winning all three games (but falling five runs short of USD in run differential).
Freshmen Justin Ammons and Pete Derkay helped drive the Vols and both were named to the All-Tournament team. Ammons hit .500 with four doubles and a triple, with five runs scored, one RBI, and two walks. Derkay was 6 for 9 with two runs, two RBIs, and three walks. Ammons was also named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week.
Tennessee started the scoring last Friday against Seton Hall in the second, with Andre Lipcius reaching on a one out single and scoring on a Derkay RBI triple. Dom Thornton added an RBI double and Brodie Leftridge made it 3-0 on an RBI single. Benito Santiago would add two more runs on a triple in the third inning to push the lead to 5-0. Five more runs would score in the fourth, including two on a home run by Santiago, to give Tennessee the comfortable 10-0 lead. Seton Hall would end up scoring five runs across the final five innings but the Vols coasted to the 12-5 win.
The second game of the day saw UT playing San Diego State, one of the hosts of the tournament. The Vols again took the lead first, this time on a Santiago RBI ground out in the first. They tacked on three more in the fourth on a Jay Charleston RBI infield single and two errors to extend the lead to 4-0. SDSU quickly struck back, scoring three runs in the bottom of the frame. Warren walked the lead off batter, gave up a single, then walked two more. Daniel Vasquez entered and gave up an RBI single and an RBI fielder's choice before getting out of the inning. SDSU would then tie the game up in the 6th on an RBI single. Tennessee would not go down quietly, with Jeff Moberg leading off the top of the ninth with a solo home run. Santiago added an RBI double. Leftridge and Thornton added RBIs of their own to give the 8-4 lead that would stand after Jon Lipinski forced a fly out and two strike outs to end the game.
The final game of the weekend featured UC Irvine. The Anteaters jumped on Will Neely early, scoring four runs on five hits in the first. UT would strike back with a run on a wild pitch, however Irvine would push the lead back to four on an RBI single in the second. A big five run third inning would put Tennessee in front 6-5. The teams would trade two run fourth innings and single run sixth innings to see UT ahead 9-8 heading to the eighth inning. Irvine tied it back up after loading the bases with no outs, but only managed the one run. Derkay hit a one out single in the bottom of the frame and Charleston entered as a pinch runner. He stole second and reached third on a fly out to right field. Reggie Southall singled up the middle to bring Charleston home, which was the last play of the game as it was called due to time constraints after eight innings for the 10-9 Vol victory.
Tennessee and NSU have never met before. In fact this will be the Spartans' first ever games against an SEC team.
Norfolk State was chosen in the preseason MEAC Coaches and SID poll as the winner of the Northern Division. NSU opened the season with an eight game home stand. They swept Villanova to open the season in three games. Since then they've ran into some issues, losing five straight to North Carolina A&T, Niagara (x3), and Virginia Commonwealth.
Tuesday the Vols will travel to Johnson City to take on ETSU before returning to Knoxville for a three game series beginning next Friday against Cincinnati.
Tennessee Volunteers (6-1) vs Norfolk State Spartans (3-5)
Date: Friday-Sunday March 3-5, 2017
First Pitch: 6 p.m. ET Friday, 3 p.m. ET Saturday, 1 p.m. ET Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Live Audio: Friday and Sunday on UTSports
Internet Video: Sunday on SEC Network+
Live Stats: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on GameTracker
Probable Starting Pitchers:
UT RHP Hunter Martin (2-0, 4.50 ERA) vs NSU RHP Alex Mauricio (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
UT LHP Zach Warren (0-1, 6.14 ERA) vs NSU LHP Devin Hemmerich (1-1, 3.21 ERA)
UT RHP Will Neely (1-0, 5.40 ERA) vs NSU RHP Jonathan Mauricio (0-0, 2.00 ERA)