As a Vol fan, if you were looking for hits and runs, early on it looked like you might have been looking in the wrong direction watching the UT take on the Georgia Bulldogs Friday night.
But in the seventh, Tennessee’s bats blew the game open with a five-run inning and then added another five-spot in the ninth as the pups rolled over allowing UT to take game one of the weekend series 12-3.
Mentioned above, this game took a late turn: through six innings, the Vols held a 2-1 lead, despite being out-hit by the Bulldogs 6-3.
The offense put up a run in the top of the second when Dylan Dreiling drew a one-out walk and made it into scoring position when Zane Denton worked a four-pitch walk directly after. A Christian Scott single brough Dreiling home for the game’s first run.
UGA tied the game in the B2, when six-hole hitter Will David took Andrew Lindsey deep for his fourth HR of the year.
Tennessee scratched across its second run of the game in the third when Hunter Ensley got hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. A Jared Dickey single and an error on the play from Bulldog right fielder Charlie Condon put Ensley at third base. A Blake Burke sacrifice fly to center scored Ensley two pitches later.
Lindsey did sorta what he does — he scattered hits and worked through the traffic. But tonight, the strikeouts were missing, and he didn’t get past the fourth inning. He got some help from Maui Ahuna near the end of his outing, when Ahuna made a slick inning-ending double play in the B4.
In the top of the fifth, Lindsey gave up a leadoff single on a 2-0 count and walked the next batter on five pitches. With the lack of run support, the leash on Lindsey was likely a little tighter than usual.
Kirby Connell came in and struck out a right-handed batter, then Vitello brought Camden Sewell in. Sewell struck out Georgia’s two-hole hitter freshman Charlie Condon but then walked Connor Tate. With the bases loaded, Sewell induced a grounder to second, and Tennessee escaped the inning without allowing a run.
In the T6, UT failed to take advantage of a one-out, pinch-hit single from Griffin Merritt, even with some help from Georgia’s defense, when Merritt advanced to second on a pickoff attempt that went awry. In the bottom of the frame, Sewell sat the UGA batter down in order, thanks in part to Ensley’s second diving catch in centerfield on the night:
It ended up not mattering all that much, because the UT offense popped off for five runs on six hits that started with a one-out double from Ahuna. Ensley got hit by a pitch, again, and then Jared Dickey and Blake Burke followed with back-to-back, run-scoring singles.
The exclamation point on the inning was Christian Moore’s two-run, monster home run over the left-field fence.
No doubt about that one!— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) May 6, 2023
CMo gives that that one a ride and just like that we lead 6-1!
Fourth straight game with a HR for Moore!
https://t.co/4tGmypnhKP#GBO // #OTH // #BeatGeorgia // #SCTop10 pic.twitter.com/SnTfkc1qxz
As the tweet noted, that was Moore’s fourth-straight game with a home run, and his emergence as a force in the middle of the lineup after a poor start to SEC play has been just as important to the team’s recent success as anything else. He’s raised his league-play average from just over .200 earlier in the season to .243.
Moore added another solo home run in the top of the ninth inning, when he lifted a moonshot off the batter’s eye in center field. He’s got nine hits, 11 RBIs and six of his season-total 11 home runs since the game against Bellarmine on 4/25.
The Vols plated one more run in the seventh when Griffin Merritt followed Moore’s home run with a double, and Denton drew his third walk of the evening (one intentional). Christian Scott singled, which scored Merritt, but he was thrown out at second trying to stretch the base hit into a two-bagger. UT went into the inning with a 2-1 lead and left it with a 7-1 lead.
UGA managed just one run on three hits in the B7, and another run in the B8 after Aaron Combs came in to relieve Sewell. Combs gave up a solo shot to the first batter he faced and a walk to the next hitter, but finished the inning strong with an out on a fielder’s choice and two-straight strikeouts to end the frame.
I know I mentioned Moore’s second HR of the night earlier, but to keep this somewhat chronological, here’s replay of the ball that went deep into center:
The Vols weren’t done after Moore’s home run, either. Still with no outs in the inning, Merritt got hit by a pitch, and Zane Denton finally didn’t get pitched around and hit his team-leading ninth home run in SEC play.
T9 | HOLY SMOKED, ZANE— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) May 6, 2023
Zeus absolutely crushes this one into the bleachers in right and the Vols continue to add on, plating the 10th run of the night!!#GBO // #OTH // #BeatGeorgia pic.twitter.com/py58AAmyZ4
Christian Scott doubled to center, then Cal Stark got hit by a pitch. Ahuna drew a walk, and then Ensley got hit by a pitch for the third time in the game. A fielder’s choice from Dickey scored Stark for the Vols fifth run in the inning and final run of the game.
Tennessee used Zander Sechrist to get the first out in the bottom of the ninth, and then Vitello sent out Hollis Fanning, who needed just six pitches for a strikeout and a flyout to end the game.
- Georgia made three fielding errors, while the Vols played a clean game defensively with no errors and three pretty fantastic defensive plays — Ensley’s two diving catches in center and Ahuna’s double play. UGA’s pitching staff also had one wild pitch and hit five Tennessee batters (Ensley three times, Merritt once and Scott once), while the Volunteer staff combined for one wild pitch and no hit batters
- Camden Sewell got the win for the Vols tonight, allowing just one run and one walk in his 2.1 IP. Tennessee used six pitchers in total, with only Lindsey and Sewell throwing more than 20 pitches
- Dylan Dreiling and Cal Stark were the only two Vol starters who didn’t record at least one hit, while Christian Scott led the team with three hits in five plate appearances and added two RBIs. His bat finally coming around has also been critical to Tennessee’s turnaround, as the bottom of the order finally isn’t just a couple of easy-outs. Scott’s third on the team in SEC batting average and his defense in right field has been pristine. He’s made one error in 19 games played.
- Tennessee’s 3-4-5 spots in the lineup continue to just rack up the numbers: Dickey went 2-5 with two RBIs, including the hit in the seventh that scored the first of the Vols’ five runs in the top of the frame; Blake Burke had another quietly productive outing, going just 1-5 on the game but adding two RBIs to his 16 SEC play runs plated, which puts him at 40 for the season, second on the team to Zane Denton’s 42
- Speaking of Denton, while the average isn’t so hot at .239, he leads the team in home runs and RBIs in SEC play