Tennessee got its first real, midweek challenge against 8-1 Boston College on Tuesday evening, and lost 7-6, despite the Eagles not scoring more than one run in any single inning.
Neither team got on the board until the Eagles took Zander Sechrist deep for a home run and a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Zechrist had been solid before he gave up the homer and ended up with an overall decent outing. He went three innings and gave up just the one run and two hits while striking out three.
But, the Vols bats responded with three runs in the bottom of third, as a one-out Chistian Scott single dropped into right field on an 0-2 count. Charlie Taylor reached on a fielder’s choice that advanced Scott into scoring position.
Maui Ahuna — hitting out of the leadoff spot, which is a recent change from Vitello, basically moving Jared Dickey down in the lineup — got his sixth RBI of the season when he put a single out into left. The Vols scored on two-straight singles, as Christian Moore hit one up the middle that brought home Taylor.
A Boston College fielding error cost them the third run in the third inning, as Blake Burke made it to first thanks to a flub from the BC right fielder that brought Ahuna all the way back around the bases to give Tennessee a 3-1 lead.
The Eagles scoring didn’t come in bunches like Tennessee’s — it was death by a thousand paper cuts. BC scored a run in four-straight innings to take back the lead: three-hole hitter Joe Vetrano took freshman AJ Russell deep in the fourth.
In the fifth, a Blake Burke error cost the Vols a run with a muffed play at first that ended up scoring a runner. Kirby Connell came in to relieve Russell and got the final out, but the damage was done and the game was tied 3-3.
The Eagles took the lead in the sixth when Vetrano led the inning off with a double, and Vitello brought in Andrew Lindsey. A grounder to short put Vetrano in scoring position before five-hole hitter and leftfielder Cameron Leary took a 1-2 pitch to left for an RBI-scoring single. Lindsey walked the next batter, then BC added another runner to the base paths with a fielder’s choice, but Lindsey ended the inning with a strikeout. He had a solid outing: he pitched two innings and struck out three while allowing just one walk and one hit.
The Vols scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to take a tie the game back at 4-4: after Christian Scott led off the inning with a strikeout (he’s hitting .125 this season, and I don’t know why we aren’t seeing somebody like Kavares Tears... just to see what he can do, but whatever), the Vols stacked back-to-back walks from Logan Chambers and Ahuna, and then Christian Moore evened up the game with a single to left.
But, of course, in the top of the eighth, Vetrano took Zach Joyce deep to right that tied the game right back up at 5-5. Joyce struck out two of the next three batters to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, UT tied the game, again, when Jared Dickey led the inning off with a hit-by-pitch, advanced to second on a balk and then scored when Griffin Merritt brought him home with his first hit of the night. Merritt stole second, but Kyle Booker struck out — another veteran outfielder who’s played better recently, and regardless, one who I’m not sure why he hasn’t been sat down for a game or two... he’s played better recently, but that’s amounted to his average ticking up near .250 (eyeroll).
Boston College retook the lead in the top of the ninth when Seth Halvorsen took over for Joyce, struck out the leadoff batter, and then allowed a single and a walk. Halvorsen struck out the next guy on three pitches, but the early single came back to burn Seth when pinch-hitter Parker Landwher singled home the fella who hit the single earlier in the inning.
Vitello’s teams never has any quit in them, and despite being down a run, Tennessee was in decent shape with hitters two, three and four due up in the ninth. Christian Moore immediately tied the game up with a 1-2 pitch he took outta the park over the right-field fence. Before tonight’s game, Moore was hitting .316 with three home runs and what I imagine to be a team-leading 16 RBIs.
Then, Blake Burke tripled down the right-field line — a play that got called out and was reversed after a review. Burke had one triple all of last season, in 95 at-bats, but the big fella was booking it around the bases and wasn’t a thing in this world that was gonna stop him.
All of this occurred with zero outs, and Zane Denton hit a weak grounder to first that was a completely useless out considering the situation. Jared Dickey hit a liner to shallow center for out number two, while Ehtan Payne, pinch running for Burke, got thrown out at home for an inning-ending double play after having the winning run at third with zero outs. Ouch.
BC took the lead with another home run in the 10th, on a one-out shot to straight-away center. That’s four solo home runs for the Eagles tonight, giving the Vols a little taste of their own HR magic. At this point in the game, Halvorson had gone 1.2 innings, giving up three hits, two runs, two walks and two strikeouts. Not his best night.
The Vols went out with a whimper in the ninth, as Merritt struck out swinging, Booker grounded out to short and Hunter Ensley grounded out to second to give BC the dub.
I’m not sure on the exact count but at least two, maybe three baserunning mistakes hurt UT tonight. It was an issue last year, too, but this team doesn’t have a record-breaking offense to cover up those mistakes.