1. In-state harmony:
Tennessee has played two teams from within the state, Austin Peay State on March 3, which culminated in a 5-3 victory; then ETSU March 16, culminating in an exciting 9-6 walk off victory. Over the course of the season, the Volunteer baseball team plays five different in-state opponents: The two already mentioned, plus conference foe Vanderbilt, in addition to the Belmont Bruins and Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. With wins over their first two opponents, the team has gotten the in-state portion of the schedule off to the right start. Let’s see whether or not they keep that trend up when they take on Vandy in mid-April.
2. Jordan Beck is on a mission:
In Tuesday night’s game, Beck homered twice, bookending the team’s scoring. In the bottom of the second inning, Beck homered to left, firing the opening salvo and giving Tennessee a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the 10th, with two men on base, Beck again connected with the pitch, sending fans home happy. A three-run homer to left propelled Tennessee to a 9-6 victory. Beck now has five home runs on the season, tying him with Drew Gilbert for the team’s lead.
Now embarking on SEC play, Tennessee will enter its three-game series at Georgia with a streak of wins under its belt. Over its last four games, Tennessee is 4-0, outscoring the opposition 38-20. The Volunteers are also 9-1 over the last 10 games, looking to keep up the momentum heading into Athens Friday night.
4. Climb the rankings:
As of March 14, Tennessee is 13th in the nation, according to D1 Baseball and 10th in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Volunteers will look to continue climbing the rankings lists once SEC play begins. With the amount of competition in the conference, the ascension will come quickly if they can find ways to win ballgames.
Kirby Connell pitched two innings in relief Tuesday night, allowing one hit, no runs, no walks, and striking out three. With it, he earned his first win of the season, making him 1-0. Connell has made seven appearances, totaling 13.1 innings, according to the UT athletics website; over that time, he hasn’t allowed an earned run. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given that his BAA is .180 and he’s only walked one batter.