Tennessee’s offense tried its best to keep it in the game, but the Vols’ pitching staff just couldn’t get out of its own way as East Tennessee State defeated UT 10-9 to open the Tri-Star Classic.
Andre Lipcius hit two home runs to keep the Vols afloat and Tennessee took its first lead at 7-6 on an RBI single from Jay Charleston in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“It was really just the approach. Just trying to come to the field and get the job done and good things happen,” Lipcius said.
However, the Vols were not able to close the game out, as freshman pitcher Chase Wallace loaded the bases with no outs and surrendered a sacrifice fly and then an RBI double from Ethan Rice to put ETSU back in front for good. The Buccaneers added two more runs on a balk and an RBI infield single from Chris Cook.
“If I knew 100 percent in my heart... I might have gone a little crazier, but (the umpire) stated his opinion and I stated mine, and at that point it’s not going to change,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said of the balk call in the ninth inning.
Tennessee continued to fight in the home half of the ninth, as Evan Russell hit a pinch hit two-run homer to pull the Vols back to within one run, but that’s where Tennessee’s comeback bid ended.
“It’s one of those games you look back on and you ask yourself what you could have done differently, but the bottom line is they either made more plays than we did or shot themselves in the foot less than we did,” Vitello said.
Tennessee has a short turnaround after the loss, as the Vols will continue the Tri-Star Classic Saturday at 12 p.m. against Memphis.