Tennessee Manager Tony Vitello used the midweek game to get some playing time for some of the younger guys, and it paid off as the Vols hit three home runs to beat the instate opponent 10-0.
Freshman Jake Kendro got a shot at the plate in the eighth and struck out, freshman Dylan Dreiling started at DH and slid into the sixth spot of the order while redshirt-sophomore Hunter Ensley started in right field.
Dreiling and Ensley homered — it was Ensley’s first and Dreiling’s third long ball of the year — then redshirt freshman Kevares Tears, someone fans likely want to see more of, went 1-2 once he took Ensley’s place in right field. Here’s Dreiling’s shot to right field, thanks to the @Vol_baseball Twitter account:
B5 | No doubt about that one! Dylan launches his third big fly of the season and Tennessee extends its lead to 8-0!!#GBO // #OTH // #BeatLipscomb pic.twitter.com/r3VvAixqLU— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) March 14, 2023
Talk about turning on one and pulling it, waaaayy outta the park. It’s gonna be exciting to see his growth through the season. Dreiling finished the game 1-3 with two strikeouts to go with the home run, but I’ll take it.
Maui Ahuna just did Maui Ahuna things: from the leadoff spot, he went 2-4 with a home run and four RBIs. His average prior to the game was .273, but I’d bet when the stats get updated after the game, he’ll be sitting near the .300-mark. Here’s his three-run homer to left from the second inning:
B2 | Pop from the top! Maui goes oppo for a 3-run blast and the Vols have put up 5 two-out runs in the second!#GBO // #OTH // #BeatLipscomb pic.twitter.com/ujueo9L0WN— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) March 14, 2023
Christian Moore somehow had a somehow quiet 2-4 night with a run scored, as his average ticks up near the .330 mark for the season. The middle of the lineup did its job, too, with Jared Dickey going 1-3 with an RBI double that brought Moore home in the sixth.
B6 | Split the gap!— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) March 14, 2023
Dickey ropes one to right-center and CMo comes racing around from first to up UT's lead to 9-0!!#GBO // #OTH // #BeatLipscomb pic.twitter.com/G2xH4VfBQi
Zane Denton went just 1-4 with a run scored, which dropped his average all the way down to .339. He’s chasing Blake Burke for the team’s leader in batting average. Vitello gave his behemoth first baseman the night off so he stayed leading the team with a .400 average. We’ll see what SEC teams have in store for Burke, and while I seriously doubt he stays near the .400-mark for the year, he’s going to be fun to watch regardless. The only error of the day was charged to Denton. I didn’t see the play, so there won’t be any judgement from me here. The Vols did strand six, but I don’t think there were any base-running gaffes, so we’ll just take all that as a net positive.
Lipscomb used nine pitchers to get through the nine-inning affair, with the Bisons’ Joey Mitchell lasting the longest at 1.1 innings.
Vitello and Tennessee Pitching coach Frank Anderson weren’t shy about using their guys, either, as Zander Sechrist got the start and Hollis Fanning finished things off. In between the two, Zack Joyce, Aaron Combs, lefty Jacob Bimbi, lefty Jake Fitzgibbons, freshman AJ Russell all got their crack at the Lipscomb lineup.
As a whole, the group gave up just five hits and five walks compared to 14 strikeouts, with Sechrist, Joyce, Combs, Russell and Fanning all sitting down multiple Lipscomb batters via strikeout. Sechrist, Combs and Russell all led the way with three Ks each.
Russell’s a delight to watch, knowing that he’s a freshman and watching him put up the numbers he is. I know — it’s not league play yet, but he leads the bullpen with 13 Ks and he’s fourth in ERA and WHIP, at 1.17 and .52, respectively.
Fanning ended the game striking out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth and threw nine of his 10 pitches for strikes. Here’s the game-ender — Fanning put the poor hitter on ice:
And that's the ballgame! Tennessee finishes off the homestand with a 10-0 shutout of Lipscomb!!#GBO // #OTH // #VolsWin pic.twitter.com/ASsKAAoQOl— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) March 14, 2023
Tennessee kicks off its SEC schedule with a three-game, weekend series against Missouri, in Columbia, on Friday. The Tigers are currently 12-3 overall, coming off a 2-1 series win against the NJIT Highlanders this past weekend.