The Arkansas bats chased Vols’ starter Drew Beam after just 1.2 IP, as Beam gave up six runs to 14 batters faced, and again, Tennessee’s offense wasn’t up to the task. The Hogs won 7-2, completed the sweep and put the Vols at just 5-10 in SEC play, with a 1-4 record in five series played.
Beam faced just 14 batters and gave up 4 hits, 6 runs and four walks to just 2 Ks. Just 33 of his 62 total pitches went for strikes.
Vitello turned to Chase Burns, who’s been the middle starter on weekends until this series, and Burns turned in an appearance that looked much more like the Chase Burns we saw last season. He got the final out in the second and pretty much cruised through the rest of his outing.
He allowed just three hits through 5.1 IP and allowed just one run — a home run to Hogs’ lead-off hitter Tavian Josenberger in the 6th inning. Burns struck out five to just two walks, even though just 48 of his79 pitches went for strikes. The outing lowered Burns’ ERA to 5.59.
The Vols’ offense managed to not look absolutely anemic in the 4th inning when Zane Denton got HBP as the lead-off hitter, and Hunter Ensley and Jake Kendro both walked with a Christian Scott flyout sandwiched in the middle. Jared Dickey stepped up and took a 1-1 pitch to left for a single that scored Denton and Ensley for Tennessee’s first runs of the game.
But Dylan Dreiling popped up to third on the first pitch to end the inning with two runners still on the bases.
The Vols tried to rally in the 6th and 8th innings — Kavares Tears led the sixth off with his second hit of the game, but then Hunter Ensley grounded into a double play. Scott managed a 3-1 single with two outs, but Jake Kendro struck out swinging to end the frame.
After going down in order in the 7th, it was Blake Burke who started the 8th off with a leadoff single. And again, a double play, this time off Zane Denton’s bat. Tears struck out swinging to end the inning for the Vols with a zero up on the scoreboard.
Vitello pulled Burns to start the 8th, and the Vols went through a few pitchers, playing lefty/ righty matchups. Kirby Connell pitched to the leadoff hitter and struck him out, then Vitello brought in Zander Sechrist, who gave up a full-count single to Parker Rowland, the Hogs’ eight-hole hitting catcher. Tony immediately yanked Secrhist for freshman AJ Russell, who induced an inning-ending double play on an 0-2 count.
Tennessee made another attempt at a rally in the B9 when Hunter Ensley kicked the inning off with a lead-off single. Christian Scott followed with a double to center, which left two runners in scoring position and no outs. Arkansas switched pitchers and went with Christian Fouch, who struck out Griffin Merritt, got Dickey to pop up weakly in the infield and got Dreiling to ground out to second on a full-count pitch to end the game.
- This was the only game this series in which the Vols didn’t make multiple errors — in fact, the defense didn’t make even one error Sunday. Hooray!
- Drew Beam had been the only one of the three Tennessee pitchers who dominated all of last season — Chase Burns and Chase Dollander being the other two — who had looked remotely close to his performance from last year. His final game performance against Florida saved the Vols from a sweep in Gainesville, and though the box score shows he gave up six runs against LSU, only one of those was an earned run. Regardless, Tennessee’s bullpen is good and a strength of this team, but the starters have to start getting deeper into games. Beam didn’t make it out of the second inning today
- The offense scored seven runs in three games against Arkansas in this series. Obviously, there’s credit due to the Hogs’ pitchers, but scoring 2.3 runs per-game is a good way to end up with a losing season. Today, two Vols had more than one base hit: Kavares Tears and Christian Scott.
- UT scored two runs on seven hits and left nine runners stranded. Dreiling stranded four, Dickey stranded two, Denton stranded two and Kendro stranded one
- The batting averages still look pretty decent for the guys at the top of the order, but when you filter out the non-conference and midweek games, the numbers paint an entirely different picture: Ensley leads the team hitting .326, Dickey’s second at .321, and those are the only two guys hitting .300-plus in league play. Christian Moore’s sitting at .271 and Blake Burke’s at .236. All of the bats need to be better, save maybe Ensley, Dickey, Dreiling and Tears, but Moore and Burke especially have to figure things out
- Tennessee’s SEC schedule was front-loaded, and this is a team replacing, what, 10 MLB draft picks that has several underclassmen who are counted on to produce. I’m not making excuses — I’m just saying we’re around the halfway-ish point and ground can be made up. The Vols get No. 4-ranked Vandy at home next weekend, then Mississippi State at home the weekend after, with the Bulldogs currently sitting at 5-10 in SEC play just like the Vols. After that, the Vols get three games in Athens against Georgia, who’s just 4-11 in league play and 19-17 overall. UT’s gotta do some damage against Mississippi State and Georgia, because the schedule finishes with three games in Knoxville against a Kentucky team that’s a bit surprisingly ranked 12th in the country. Then, the last series of the season — three games at No. 6-ranked South Carolina
- Shortstop Maui Ahuna missed the final two games of the weekend against Arkansas, and Vitello’s said previously that it’s an injury to the backside of his body, and that it had been lingering for a few weeks. So I reckon we’ll see what the availability of one of the top, former transfer players on the market is going forward