Leadoff hitter Jared Dickey had a perfect night at the plate, going 3-3 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs, while the LNS crowd got the delightful occurrence of watching Blake Burke hit a ball way outta the park. Both guys, and some solid pitching, helped power UT to a 10-0 win against Alabama A&M.
Burke had a nice game, too, going 2-2 from the plate with the home run and a walk to go with it.
The offense put up four multi-run innings: It scored three in the third off Burke’s HR, then two in the fifth from a Burke single that scored Dickey on an A&M throwing error, which led to a Zane Denton groundout that subsequently scored Burke.
Three runs in the 6th — two from Dickey’s home run, which we’ll take a peak at below:
The Vols added the third run in the sixth from redshirt junior utility player and Memphis native Ethan Payne, when second baseman Logan Chambers walked and Payne doubled him home.
In the eighth, redshirt sophomore catcher Ryan Miller pinch hit for Dickey and hit a two-run home run in his first collegiate at bat.
RYAN MILLER CALLS GAME IN HIS FIRST COLLEGIATE AT BAT!!!— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) February 22, 2023
He blasts a two-run shot over the wall and the Vols run rule Alabama A&M, 10-0, in the 2023 home opener!#GBO // #OTH // #VolsWin pic.twitter.com/4LZ8be3Zom
With all the offensive fireworks, it would be easy to skim over the pitchers. I don’t know when or if Vitello will settle on a midweek starter, because the box score of this game reads like it was a bullpen game. The Vols used four different pitchers, who each pitched two innings.
Hollis Fanning, a junior who stands 6-8, 230 and was the No. 53-ranked player in Tennessee in the 2020 recruiting class, got the start, struck out two, walked one and threw 22 of his 32 pitches for strikes.
Leftie and redshirt sophomore Jake Fitzgibbons, coming off a medical redshirt from last season, got the win as he struck out four, walked two and didn’t allow a hit to the eight batters he faced.
True freshman and Franklin, TN native AJ Russell was next, and you can see why the staff went after him. He’s 6-6, maybe a bit skinny, but he’s got four pitches, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the velocity on his fastball tick up as he grows into his frame. He struck out three, walked none and tossed 17 of his 25 pitches for strikes.
Vitello went to junior Jacob Bimbi to close things out for the Wabash Valley JUCO transfer’s third appearance of the year. He’s pitched in both of the last two games and is part of the staffs’ collective two-straight shutouts. He looked better against Alabama A&M than he did against UCSD — striking out four in two innings against A&M while walking two and not recording an out against UCSD. Today, though, he had four Ks and no walks, though he surrendered three hits and a wild pitch. He finished with 24 of his 34 pitches as strikes.
I imagine we’ll see quite a bit of Bimbi this year — he was a first-team JUCO All-American at Wabash and struck out 133 batters against 41 walks in 18 starts last year. He’s got two more years of eligibility, unless, of course, the MLB Draft comes calling.
Overall, Tennessee scored 10 runs on 10 hits but stranded six runners. No errors, though!
The Vols get ‘Bama A&M again tomorrow before Dayton comes to LNS for the weekend series.