clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

New-look infield powers Diamond Vols to 9-0 win in season opener

New, comments
Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tennessee blanked Georgia Southern 9-0 in the 2022 season opener, thanks in part to a power surge from a few members of the Vols’ re-tooled infield.

Jorel Ortega, who started at second base (replacing Max Ferguson), went 3-3 with a three-run home run, while Trey Lipscomb started at third (replacing Jake Rucker) and added a home run, three total hits and two RBIs of his own. I don’t know exactly how far Ortega’s blast went, but it definitely went far — like 400-feet far.

Another newbie, JUCO transfer Seth Stephenson, started at designated hitter, hit in the lead-off spot and launched a two-run home run in the fifth. Stephenson typically plays short stop, where junior Cortland Lawson started today (replacing Liam Spence). Though once I saw Stephenson run, I immediately understood why Vitello wanted to get him in the lineup. Stephenson can MOVE. I don’t know how often we’ll see the power, but his speed will change the outcome of a game for the Vols at some point this season.

While the infield is full of new faces, the outfield brings back some familiar and significant talent. Jordan Beck and Drew Gilbert each started in his usual spot, right field and center field, respectively. The duo combined to go 0-9 on the day, but regardless, it felt like home watching Beck’s hat fly off as he was fielding the ball.

Freshman Chase Burns started for Tennessee and backed up the big arm reputation that preceded him. Burns hit the mid-to-high 90s on his fast ball — Rucker said he hit 98 while I saw others say 96 — and looked impressively comfortable in his first collegiate start. For the day, he struck out five through five innings while allowing just two hits, no runs and one walk.

Camden Sewell and Kirby Connell pitched a combined four innings of one-hit ball after Burns’ day ended, with Connell getting the ball for the game’s final six outs.

The Vols continue the series tomorrow at 1 PM.