Tennessee capped off its series sweep of Iona Sunday with a 12-2 win. All in all, the Vols outscored the Gaels 68-3 in three games.
Clearly the offense had its way with the Iona pitchers, but Trey Lipscomb had an especially productive series. On Friday, he became the third player in Tennessee history to hit for the cycle and the first to do it since fellow third baseman Jordan Rodgers did it in 2016. Lipscomb went 5-5 for the day and drove in nine, yes, nine, runs. He followed that up with a 3-4 day on Saturday and finished the weekend by going 2-3 Sunday. His series totals: 10 hits, two HRs and 14 RBIs. He’s hitting .565 for the season and is one of four Vols currently batting better than .500 for the season.
Lipscomb’s bat was the story of the series, but anytime a team puts up back-to-back games of 27 and 25 runs, it’s pretty clear the entire lineup was dialed in. Saturday’s 29 runs was carried by the meat of the lineup — Jordan Beck had three total hits, four RBIs and this blast to the deepest part of the ball park.
Jordan Beck sends an absolute missile to straight-away center for his second HR of the year pic.twitter.com/dedlWafFhH— RockyTopTalk (@RockyTopTalk) February 26, 2022
Drew Gilbert went 2-4 with four RBIs while Christian Scott and Blake Burke knocked in a combined six runs in pinch-hit opportunities.
While Beck struggled going 0-3 Friday, he had the bomb on Saturday and then hit another one on Sunday and drove in three runs in the series finale.
The catcher position was a place to keep an eye on coming into the season, since the Vols lost its two primary catches from last season in Connor Pavolony and Jackson Greer. Evan Russell started behind the plate Friday and Saturday, but redshirt freshman Jared Dickey got the nod Sunday. Dickey had a big day at the plate with a home run, three total hits, two walks and four runs scored out of the lead-off spot. I don’t know much about Dickey’s arm from behind the plate, or if he’s ready for more playing time, but I’m concerned about Russell’s ability to hold and/ or throw out runners come SEC play.
The Tennessee pitchers continued to impress, despite still being down Blade Tidwell and Missouri transfer Seth Halvorsen. Freshman Chase Burns got the Friday start again and pitched five innings of four-hit ball. He struck out four, walked one and didn’t allow an earned run. Somehow, the freshman’s 2-0 and hasn’t given up an earned run for the season. He’s throwing fireballs and flying sorta under-the-radar on this Vols’ staff.
Chase Dollander got his first win of the season on Saturday and has perhaps been the most dominant pitcher on the staff so far this year. He struck out 10 batters, allowed just two hits and has 21 Ks through 10 innings of work.
Chase Dollander, 10Ks thru 5.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 26, 2022
21Ks/1BB over 10ip this year. pic.twitter.com/BN692RQtrc
Ben Joyce set the internet ablaze during the middle of the week by hitting 103 on the radar gun and maybe dialed things back a bit Saturday. Fastest pitch according to the broadcast was just 101 MPH.
Ben Joyce, 100mph fastballs.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 26, 2022
Took it easy today. Fastest the broadcast mentioned was only 101mph. pic.twitter.com/N4LLOyn6vJ
Joyce won’t eat a lot of innings this year, and his control was a bit iffy at times Saturday, but he’s allowed just one hit and struck out four through a couple innings of work so far for the year. Tennessee’s bullpen really missed this kind of power arm last year, so I hope Joyce can stay healthy and fill that void this year.
Sunday’s game ended early with the 10-run rule in effect, but the Vols are back in action Tuesday at home against ETSU. Next weekend, Tennessee travels to Texas to play in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic, where the games will be played in the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park. UT gets a rematch from last year’s College World Series with the other ut, Texas on Friday, then plays Baylor Saturday and Oklahoma Sunday.