via UT Sports Information
KNOXVLLE, Tenn. – Andre Lipcius hit a pair of home runs but a rough ninth inning doomed Tennessee in a 10-9 loss to East Tennessee State on Friday afternoon in the opening game of the Tri-Star Classic at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Vols battled back from an early three-run deficit to take a 7-6 lead into the ninth inning after Jay Charleston drove in a run with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to give UT its first lead of the game.
Unfortunately, ETSU struck for four runs in the top of the ninth to take a 10-7 lead into the bottom half of the inning. UT made things interesting with a pinch-hit, two-run homer by freshman Evan Russell but were unable to complete the rally.
Despite the loss, Lipcius had one of the best games of his career, finishing the afternoon 3-for-3 with three RBI, two homers, two walks and a career-best four runs scored.
Zach Linginfelter started on the mound for the Vols and gave up five runs (three earned) over five innings of work. The sophomore from Sevierville finished the game with a season-high seven strikeouts, one off his career high set last season at Texas A&M, but also struggled to find the strike zone early on with three walks. Freshman reliever Chase Wallace was stuck with the loss after giving up four runs in 1.1 innings pitched.
The Buccaneers jumped out to an early lead with a two-run single from Ben Jackson in the first inning. ETSU loaded the bases with two outs after back-to-back walks and Jackson made UT pay with a single to center field to make it 2-0.
The Vols didn’t waste any time responding as they tied the game in the bottom of the first thanks to the first of Lipcius’ two home runs, a two-run blast to left.
The Bucs quickly regained their lead, however, as Hunter Parker reached base on a walk and ended up scoring from third on a ground ball to make it 3-2 in the second. ETSU added to its lead again in the third after a Tennessee error extended the inning. Sean Kearney doubled down the left-field line to plate a pair of runs and put the Bucs ahead 5-2.
The Big Orange chipped away at the deficit with runs in the fourth and fifth innings to draw within one. Brodie Leftridge drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth and Lipcius hit his second homer of the game – a solo shot to right field – in the fifth to cut the Bucs’ lead to 5-4.
After ETSU added a run on an RBI double from Jackson Greer in the top of the seventh, the Vols tied the game with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Pete Derkay singled to score Charleston and Benito Santiago drove in the game-tying run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to even things up at six.
Tennessee kept the momentum going and took its first lead of the game in the eighth on an RBI single to right field by Charleston. Zach Daniels led off the inning with his third walk of the afternoon and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Leftridge before scoring on Charleston’s single to give the Big Orange a 7-6 lead.
ETSU scored four runs to take a 10-7 lead into the bottom of the ninth. A leadoff triple and back-to-back hit batters by Wallace loaded the bases with no outs. A sacrifice fly by Greer tied the game before pinch hitter Ethan Rice doubled down the right-field line to score the go-ahead run from second. The Bucs added two more runs on a balk and an RBI infield single by Chris Cook.
Aaron Maher came in to record his third save of the season for ETSU despite giving up a two-run home run to Russell. Corey Bates was credited with the win for the Bucs, his first of the season.
Huge Day for Lipcius
Andre Lipcius set a new career high with four runs scored on Friday and was the first Vol to hit two home runs in the same game since Jordan Rodgersaccomplished the feat almost exactly one year ago. Rodgers hit a pair of four-baggers in a 10-2 win over Norfolk State on March 3 of last year. Lipcius reached base in all five of his plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with two walks.
Russell Goes Yard for First Time
Tennessee freshman Evan Russell made the most of his only at-bat of the game, launching a two-run homer to left field to cut the Vols’ deficit to one in the bottom of the ninth. The pinch-hit home run was the first of Russell’s collegiate career and the first by a Tennessee player since Matt Waldren hit one on March 18 last season against South Carolina. Russell has now reached base in four of his five career plate appearances, going 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs and three RBI.
Tennessee continues play at the Tri-Star Classic on Saturday with a noonshowdown against Memphis. Fans can listen to the game on UTSports.com by clicking HERE.