No. 19 Vols sweep second-ranked Vanderbilt

Published 1:08 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023

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University of Tennessee

Another standout day at the plate and an impressive performance on the mound from Drew Beam led No. 19 Tennessee to a 10-5 victory over No. 2 Vanderbilt on Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

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With the victory, the Volunteers notched their seventh consecutive win over their in-state rival to complete the series sweep for the second straight year. UT’s seven straight victories over the Commodores marks its longest win streak in the series since winning eight in a row from 1993-94.

Tennessee (26-14, 8-10 SEC) scored double-digit runs for the second straight game, including five in the second inning to jump out to an early lead. Tennessee added four more runs in the fifth to really break the game open and, despite some struggles in the seventh and eighth innings, held on rather comfortably for the win.

Hunter Ensley homered twice and went 3-for-5 with three RBIs to pace the offense while Griffin Merritt also had another big day at the plate with three runs scored and three RBIs on a pair of hits, including his 12th home run of the year.

Beam bounced back nicely from a rough outing at Arkansas last weekend by pitching 6.2 innings to earn the win and improve to 5-2 on the year. The Murfreesboro native scattered six hits and allowed just two runs (one earned) with three strikeouts on the day.

Devin Futrell suffered just his second loss of the season for Vanderbilt (29-11, 13-5 SEC) after allowing seven runs (two earned) on seven hits in 4.1 innings. Jack Bulger and Davis Diaz both homered for the Dores while Enrique Bradfield Jr. had a pair of late hits and an RBI after starting the series 0-for-12.

The series sweep was Tennessee’s 12th in league play under Tony Vitello (2018-pres.). Prior to 2018, the Vols swept just 12 SEC series in the previous 15 seasons (2003-17).

Tennessee 17, Vanderbilt 1

A nine-run first inning set the tone as No. 19 Tennessee cruised to a 17-1 run-rule victory to secure a series-clinching win over No. 2 Vanderbilt on Saturday.

The Volunteers’ 17 runs were tied for the most in an SEC home game under head coach Tony Vitello and tied for the fourth most in any conference game since Vitello took over in 2018.

After falling behind 1-0 on a solo home run by RJ Schreck in the top of the first inning, Tennessee responded by batting around in the bottom of the inning, plating nine runs on six hits and four walks, chasing Commodores’ starter Bryce Cunningham after just two-thirds of an inning.

Kavares Tears, Zane Denton, Cal Stark, Maui Ahuna and Jared Dickey all drove in runs during the first-inning offensive explosion.

The Vols added three more runs in the second, one in the third and four in the fifth to round out the scoring and record their fifth run-rule victory of the season. The Vols scored 14 of their 17 runs with two outs.

Five different players drove in multiple runs on the day for UT, led by Ahuna’s career-high tying five RBIs. The junior shortstop went 2-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and a three-run homer from the leadoff spot.

Jared Dickey and Denton joined Ahuna as Vols with two hits as eight of the nine starters recorded at least one base knock in the game. The only UT player not to record a hit was Christian Moore, who was still extremely productive by drawing three walks and leading the team with three runs scored.

Chase Dollander pitched his first-career complete game, scattering six hits with nine strikeouts over seven innings.

Tennessee 4, Vanderbilt 3

Four solo home runs, including a walk-off blast by Griffin Merritt in the bottom of the 12th inning, lifted No. 19 Tennessee to a thrilling come-from-behind 4-3 victory over No. 2 Vanderbilt in Friday night’s series opener.

Despite some fantastic pitching from the likes of Andrew Lindsey and Camden Sewell,

The Volunteers entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 3-1 and had mustered just two hits to that point.

Kavares Tears sparked the comeback with a solo home run off to lead off the inning and cut the deficit to 3-2. Following back-to-back strikeouts and down to the final strike, freshman pinch hitter Dylan Dreiling took a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right center to tie the game at 3-3.

UT was unable to take advantage of a Jared Dickey leadoff double in the 10th but was able to keep the game tied thanks to the dominant pitching of sophomore Chase Burns, who entered the game with a runner on first and no outs in the top of the 10th. Burns proceeded to strike out the next three batters and allowed just one hit with seven strikeouts over three innings of relief, facing the minimum during that stretch to earn the win.