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Vols Baseball: Tennessee upends Western Carolina

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On Tuesday night in Knoxville, the sixth ranked Tennessee baseball team (21-4, 5-1) played host to the Southern Conference’s Western Carolina Catamounts. The Catamounts, hailing from Cullowhee, North Carolina, entered the game with a 13-4 record.

For the midweek standalone game, the Volunteers sent Mark McLaughlin to the mound to start the matchup. He would turn in 2.1, one run innings before making way for a slew of relievers. The man who received the most time on the mound, Jake Fitzgibbons, wound up with the win, his first of the season. Fitzgibbons gave Tennessee 3.1 innings, allowing one hit, no runs, and picking up four strikeouts.

In the bottom of the first inning, Jake Rucker grounded out but was able to score Max Ferguson on the play, thus firing the opening salvo and giving Tennessee a 1-0 lead.

Western Carolina returned the favor — and then some — in the top of the third inning with a two-run homer to right, propelling the Catamounts to a 2-1 advantage.

The rest of the way, however, it would be all Vols. In the next half inning, Kyle Booker hit a solo home run (1) to tie the game at 2-2.

In the fourth inning, it was Booker once again bringing in a run when he singled down the line, scoring a pair on the play, and regaining the advantage, 4-2. Booker would go on to score on a wild pitch, making the score 5-2.

Tennessee added one in the fifth thanks to an Evan Russell home run (5), propelling the score to 6-2. In the eighth, a three-run home run off the bat of Rucker (4) pushed Tennessee well ahead of Western Carolina, 9-2.

That would be the final score, as the Volunteers earned their 22nd win of the season, improving to 22-4 overall. This weekend, it’s back to SEC play as Tennessee heads to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide (15-9, 1-5). Given the Vols’ recent showings — they are 11-1 over their last 12 and winners of six straight contests — the series at Alabama should swing Tennessee’s way.

The games on Friday and Saturday are both scheduled for a 7:00 pm first pitch, while Sunday’s game three is slated to being at noon.