The Vols sprayed seven hits through nine innings, but once again made two fielding errors and stranded seven runners on base in tonight’s series-defining game two 6-3 loss to the Razorbacks.
Starting pitching has been an issue since SEC play started, so Andrew Lindsey got the ball first in Friday’s loss, and Chase Dollander got the start tonight. Though he only pitched 4.1 innings, he gave up 2 H, 3 R (two earned), 2 BB and 8 Ks.
Tennessee’s offense put a run up in the top of first — another Jared Dickey leadoff home run. Freshman Dylan Dreiling drew a walk on the next at bat, but got thrown out at second when Christian Moore reached first on fielder’s choice. But Blake Burke followed with a single, then he and Moore both ended up in scoring position thanks to an error by Arkansas’ right-fielder Kendall Diggs. So the Vols have one out and two men in scoring position.
Hunter Ensley reached second base on a fielder’s choice, but the Hogs got Burke between bases for the second out and Griffin Merritt both grounded out to end the inning. Two hits, an opposing team’s defensive error, yet the Vols score just on run and strand two men in scoring position.
Arkansas took the lead back in the B1, as the Razorbacks lead-off man reached on a walk and subsequently stole second base. Dollander got a flyout for the inning’s first out, and it looked like maybe he could work out of the jam. But three-hole hitter Jace Borofen took a 3-1 pitch out to straight-away center for a two-run home run. Dollander struck the next two batters out swinging, both on 1-2 counts.
The offense didn’t put up another run until the sixth, another leadoff home run — this time from Blake Burke. Ensley struck out looking next, then Vitello pulled Merritt for youngster Kavares Tears. Tears delivered with a base hit, but Zane Denton struck out swinging and Tears got caught attempting to steal second on an inning-ending double play.
Meanwhile, Dollander was perfect from the second through the fourth inning, as he retired each batter he faced and struck out five of the eight batters he faced. But in the B5, Tennessee’s defense made its second error of the game, when Caleb Cali made it all the way to second on a throwing error from Jared Dickey. A base hit from Hog 1st baseman Ben McLaughlin scored Cali and extended Arkansas’s lead to 3-1.
Vitello brought in Kirby Connell to get the final two outs of the 5th, as Dollander gave up a one-out walk after McLaughlin’s base hit. Connell was in damage control duty, with two runners on, and he struck out the first batter he faced and induced a fly out to end the inning without Arkansas pushing any more runners across.
Camden Sewell came out in the sixth and had a wild inning: He hit the leadoff batter Bohrofen on a 3-1 pitch, and Bohrofen proceeded to steal second. Sewell got the next hitter out via strikeout, then surrendered a walk on a 3-1 pitch to Brady Slavens. Arkansas pulled out the double steal, putting Bohrofen at third and Slavens at second. A full-count walk to Caleb Cali had the bases loaded with just one out, and then Sewell struck out the two next batters he faced to end the inning without allowing a run.
Vitello left Sewell in for the seventh, which ended up being a game-deciding mistake. Sewell hit the first two batters he faced, the first of which immediately stole second because everybody in the country knows they can run on us. John Bolton, Arkansas’ last hitter in the lineup, was the first batter Sewell hit in the inning, and he scored when Sewell made a throwing error. It took two more Arkansas run-scoring singles for Vitello to pull Sewell, and Bryce Jenkins came in to kill the run with an inning-ending, swinging strikeout. The Hogs stranded two, but put up three runs on two hits and another Tennessee error.
Tennessee attempted to rally in the 9th, down 6-2, as Kavares Tears led the final frame off with a full-count walk. Zane Denton and Jake Kendro both subsequently struck out, but Tears made it all the way from first to home for a run on wild pitches from Arkansas’ Gage Wood. Christian Scott watched a full-count pitch go by for a ball, and once again, the Vols had a runner on base. He got to second, as Wood was more worried about getting the final out of the game with Jared Dickey at the plate. Dickey flew out to left to end the game.
- This series-clinching win for Arkansas means Tennessee’s won just one of the four league-play series so far this season
- This season, the pattern’s seemed to be that the starting pitching is a weakness, with the bullpen being the strength of the team. That wasn’t the case tonight. Obviously, one would like to see Dollander go more than 4.1 IP, but his final stat line I posted above in the story is a line that gave Tennessee a chance to win the game. Sewell’s ERA jumped up to 4.91 after tonight’s outing
- No matter how well the starters or the bullpen pitch, Tennessee isn’t winning games where they go multiple innings without scoring a run and make costly defensive mistakes
- Jake Kendo started at shortstop tonight, and Austin Jaslove eventually replaced him. Kendro hit at the bottom of the lineup tonight, and while getting production from spots 7-9 has been a problem all season, tonight Blake Burke hit fourth, and nobody behind him had even one hit, other than pinch-hitters Tears and Scott. Christian Moore went 0-3 and his average has dropped to .308 for the season
- Freshman Dylan Dreiling had a nice game hitting second: 2-3 with two doubles
- Hunter Ensley, Griffin Merritt and Zane Denton combined to go 0-10 with four combined strikeouts
Tennessee will try to steal a win and avoid the sweep tomorrow, just like it did against LSU and UF. I figure Drew Beam starts, with first pitch scheduled for 3 PM EST.