Tennessee got another good outing from its starting pitcher, as Drew Beam tossed 6 innings of 4 H, 2 ER ball — sitting down 10 Charlotte hitters via strikeout — and Christian Moore hit home runs No. 3 and No. 4 of the weekend as the Vols took down Charlotte 9-2 to advance to the Super Regionals.
Beam struck out seven through the first four innings while allowing just two hits. He finally gave up a hit, and a run, when former Vol Austin Knight hit his second home run against his former team this weekend in the top of the fifth frame.
The Vols had taken the lead in the bottom of the second when Moore led the inning off with a blast over the left-field fence.
Tennessee took control of the game in the fourth inning when Jared Dicked kicked things off by reaching first on a duffed play at first. With Charlotte having already played once today, it didn’t have much margin for error, and the Vols took advantage. The mistake started a chain reaction.
Griffin Merritt doubled down the line in left to keep things going and advance Dickey to third. Christian Moore and Blake Burke both hit sacrifice flies to add two more runs to UT’s lead. One pitch later, Griffin Merritt blasted his 19th home run of the season and second of the weekend to straight-away center.
Charlotte got on the board in the top of the fifth, when aforementioned former Vol Austin Knight took Beam deep for a lead-off home run to leftfield. Knight seemed like he came into the games against Tennessee with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. 4-0 became 4-1, and Charlotte surely felt like it was still in this one.
The 49ers added another run in the top of the sixth, when a lead-off single got played by a one-out double. Beam responded with his 10th and final strikeout and a flyout to end the half frame. Charlotte cut UT’s lead in half, from 4-1 to 4-2.
But UT put on Moore steam in the bottom of the sixth, when Christian Moore smashed his second home run of the game and fourth of the weekend. Jared Dickey led the half frame off with a strikeout, but Merritt singled to left and set the table for Moore’s two-run shot to centerfield.
I don’t really know what to say about Moore at this point, except that the ability Burke and him displayed in limited playing time was probably partially to blame for Tennessee being rated so high in the preseason polls despite having 10 players drafted from last year’s squad. And Burke and Moore just haven’t synched up this year. Burke started strong, then faded, while Moore took a while to get going and now he’s arguably the Vols’ most dangerous hitter.
After Moore’s blast gave the Vols a pretty comfortable lead, Vitello took Beam out and brought in Camden Sewell in the seventh. Cam gave up a double and a walk, but still recorded all three outs via K and held Charlotte scoreless.
Tennessee ended up adding a run in the seventh to make it a 7-2 game, and then plated two more in the eighth to put this one to bed at 9-2. Freshman AJ Russell, who’s been fantastic all season, pitched the top of the ninth and struck out the final batter of the game.
With the win in the Clemson Regional, the Vols are headed to the Super Regionals.
UT will face the winner of the Auburn Regional, with the Supers starting June 9th and running through June 11th.