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Tennessee baseball downs Catamounts in slugfest

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Saul Young/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC

On Tuesday night, the third ranked Tennessee Volunteers headed east to North Carolina to take on the Western Carolina Catamounts for the second time this season. This game served as the final tune-up before the Vols will get an opportunity to face the second ranked Vanderbilt Commodores.

Tennessee used a whole host of pitchers, beginning with Jake Fitzgibbons. Fitzgibbons would go 0.2 innings, allowing three runs in the process. Later in the game, Redmond Walsh (3-1), who ultimately got the win despite giving up three runs, contributed an inning in relief. With 0.1 innings under his belt, Kirby Connell would earn his second save of the season.

As mentioned, Western Carolina kicked off the scoring-fest in the first inning. A double plated a pair before a steal of home plate scored the third run of the inning.

In the top of the second, Kyle Booker got Tennessee on the board with a sacrifice fly, making it a 3-1 game. In the top of the third inning, Max Ferguson hit his third home run of the season, dwindling the Catamounts’ lead to one.

Ferguson would pick up another pair of RBIs in the next inning when he singled to give the Vols a 4-3 advantage. A Catamount double (Ferreras) would plate WCU’s fourth run.

When Jordan Beck entered the box in the fifth, the game was knotted at 4-4. Beck promptly doubled, scoring Jake Rucker and capturing the lead for Tennessee; later in the inning, Beck would score on a wild pitch, pushing the advantage further to 6-4.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, a Prater double gave the Catamounts their fifth run of the game.

In the top of the sixth, another Tennessee run scored on a wild pitch when Logan Steenstra was able to cross the plate.

A two-run Ferreras homer in the bottom of the sixth tied the game at 7-7.

Ferguson would plate another pair of runs in the seventh, breaking the 7-7 seal and recapturing the lead. Jackson Greer would double in two more to extend the Tennessee lead to 11-7.

But the Catamounts, eying an upset, refused to go away. In the bottom of the seventh, Ketterman doubled and scored two runs in the process; Ferreras would then single and give WCU another run, making it 11-10.

Beck hit his sixth home run of the year in the top of the eighth inning, adding a bit of insurance to the Tennessee cause, 12-10. In the ninth, Ferguson would record his sixth RBI of the night on a sacrifice fly before a Rucker single scored another, giving the Vols a 14-10 lead.

In the bottom of the ninth, Western Carolina would mount its final comeback attempt, but would ultimately fall short. Two runs would score in the inning on a Bigbie single, but that’s as far as the Catamount advance would go, yielding a 14-12 Tennessee win.

Of note, Max Ferguson went 4-for-4 with two runs scored and six RBIs; Jackson Greer went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs; Jake Rucker went 3-for-6; Jordan Beck drove in a pair and collected two hits; Kyle Booker went 3-for-3 and scored three runs. Tennessee collected 16 hits and six walks in the game, including five doubles and two home runs.

Tennessee, now 28-6 overall, will head into the weekend on a high note with a massive series looming. The Vols and Commodores will square off in Knoxville with the first game scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm and to be broadcast on ESPNU. Saturday’s game two is slated to begin at 4:00 pm; Sunday’s game will begin at 1:00 pm.