The first game of Tennessee’s three-game home series against Missouri didn’t start out like a typical, 2022 Volunteer baseball game. But it finished like one — with a Tennessee win.
The Vols have now tied some Florida team from a while back for the best start to an SEC season ever at 10-0.
UT trailed Missouri for more than six innings of Friday’s game and didn’t score a run until the bottom of the fifth. Tiger starter Spencer Miles was both effective and efficient — he allowed just four hits, one run and one walk while striking out four. But once Miles left the game, things sorta went to piece for Missouri’s upset chances.
Tennessee scored all seven of its runs from the fifth inning on and tagged multiple Missouri bullpen pitchers for hits and eventual runs. All in all, Missouri’s bullpen pitchers walked six batters and gave up three extra-base hits, including Evan Russell’s three-run home run to left field in the eighth inning.
pitcher made a serious error shaking off that first pitch eh— RockyTopTalk (@RockyTopTalk) April 9, 2022
just another big-time evan russell hr nbd pic.twitter.com/C0rnaZ4v6m
Conversely, Tennessee’s bullpen gave up just one run and one walk in more than seven innings of work. Like I mentioned earlier, this was an atypical night for the Vols — starter Chase Burns had his worst outing of the season.
Burns walked four batters in just 2.2 innings, and his fastball was inaccurate with decreased velocity. I saw Burns throw more changeups tonight than I remember seeing in any other appearance this year, which I’m sure was a result of his issues with the heater.
Tennessee’s talented freshman had walked just 10 batters total in seven previous starts this year, so I’m definitely not worried. But it was odd watching him struggle.
Ben Joyce was a part of the battery of bullpen pitchers tonight, and he struck out all three of the batters he faced. He also hit 103 and 104 on the radar gun.
Blade Tidwell came in in the eighth and struck out the side, and Tony Vitello gave him a chance to finish off the game. But Tidwell hit the leadoff man in the ninth and gave up a subsequent single before Vitello brought in Redmond Walsh to finish off the win.
Trey Lipscomb was the only Vol other than Russell to go deep, and he finished the night 2-4 with one RBI. Christian Scott played a big role in tonight’s win, too, not only because he led the Vols with three hits, but also because he stretched a single into a double in the seventh. That doesn’t seem like a big deal at face value, but the context: at that point, Tennessee was down a runt, and the next batter, Jorel Ortega, knocked him home a few pitches later to tie up the game. The Vols took the lead right after when Cortland Lawson scored Ortega on a base hit to left field.
Tomorrow, Tennessee looks to break the tie with that Florida team for the most consecutive wins to start a conference schedule. Chase Dollander will get the start, and let’s hope he fares a bit better than Burns tonight.