- Nov 29, 2011
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee baseball team wraps up its fall season this weekend with its annual Fall World Series, which will begin on Friday evening and conclude on Sunday.
Saturday's contest will be held at Smokies Stadium just up the road in Kodak, Tennessee while Friday and Sunday's games will take place at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. All three Fall World Series games will be free to attend.
Please be aware that concessions will not be available for Friday and Sundays games at Lindsey Nelson Stadium and there will be no designated parking. Fans will be allowed to bring in their own food and non-alcoholic beverages.
The full schedule for the 2021 Fall World Series is listed below:
2021 Fall World Series Schedule
Game 1 – Friday, Nov. 5 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium - 6 p.m.
Game 2 – Saturday, Nov. 6 at Smokies Stadium – Kodak, TN - 1 p.m.
Game 3 – Sunday, Nov. 7 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium - 5:30 p.m.
Fans in attendance for Saturday's game at Smokies Stadium will have an opportunity to meet the team, as well. Gates will open at 11 a.m. and fans are welcome to watch batting practice, which begins at 11:20 a.m. There will also be an all-you-can-eat buffet available starting at noon.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
There will be plenty of things to watch for during this year's Fall World Series. Here are just a few storylines to keep an eye on throughout the weekend.
One Final Ride
Three of the Vols' most experienced players decided to use their free year of eligibility from the COVID-shortened 2020 season to return for one final go around this year. Super seniors Evan Russell, Luc Lipcius and Redmond Walsh will look to lead the Big Orange back to Omaha after having terrific seasons in 2021.
Russell ranked third on the team with a career-high 14 home runs and also had a career-best 43 RBI a year ago and has developed into one of college baseball's most respected leaders. Lipcius was finally able to show what he could do with a full and healthy season, tying for the team lead with 15 homers and a career-high 42 RBI.
Walsh was once again one of UT's top bullpen arms in 2021, posting a 5-1 record, a 2.52 ERA and five saves in 28 relief appearances. His 16 career saves rank third in program history and are seven shy of Todd Helton's program record of 23.
Battles on the Infield
One of the major storylines leading into next season is who will step in for the four departing starting infielders that moved on to pro ball. Lipcius is the only returning starter on the infield after catcher Connor Pavolony, second baseman Max Ferguson, shortstop Liam Spence and third baseman Jake Rucker were all selected in the 2021 MLB Draft.
At catcher, the aforementioned Russell has spent the entire summer and fall working behind the plate after playing in the outfield for the majority of his Tennessee career. Redshirt freshman Charlie Taylor is another quality option behind the dish after an impressive summer in the California Collegiate League and is set to make his collegiate debut this season.
A mix of returners and newcomers are battling it out for playing time at the other three open infield positions. Returners Logan Steenstra (.292/.462/.500, 8 doubles, 6 RBI) and Cortland Lawson (.357/.438/.643, 1 HR, 3 RBI) have seen the majority of reps at shortstop this fall while Trey Lipscomb (.310/.412/.517, 1 HR, 9 RBI) and Jorel Ortega (.148/.333/.296, 1 HR, 3 RBI) have been solid options at the hot corner. A pair of newcomers in freshman Christian Moore and junior college transfer Seth Stephenson continue to battle it out at second base. Talented freshman Blake Burke will also push for early playing time at first base.
Plenty of Arms
Despite losing two weekend starters in Chad Dallas and Will Heflin, bullpen ace Sean Hunley and the ultra-talented Jackson Leath, Tennessee isn't lacking on the mound. The Vols will have plenty of capable arms competing for weekend starting spots and key bullpen roles.
Blade Tidwell returns to lead the staff after earning Freshman All-America honors last season. The Loretto, Tennessee, native posted a 10-3 record in 18 starts with a 3.74 ERA and 90 strikeouts during his debut season. His 10 victories are tied for the second most in program history by a freshman.
Experienced right hander Camden Sewell is also back for his senior season after a strong finish to the 2021 campaign. Sewell is in the mix for a spot in the weekend rotation and could also be an extremely valuable weapon out of the bullpen after going 4-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 23 appearances last year (three starts).
Other returners include left-handed relievers Walsh, Kirby Connell (26 App, 1-1, 3.00 ERA), Will Mabrey (12 App, 0-0, 1.13 ERA), Jake Fitzgibbons (7 App, 3 GS, 1-0) and Zander Sechrist (8 App, 2-0, 2.89 ERA) as well as right handers Mark McLaughlin (15 App, 5 GS, 2-0, 1.83 ERA), Christian Delashmit (6 App, 0-0) and Hollis Fanning (4 App, 0-0). Hard-throwing righty Ben Joyce is also expected to make an impact after missing last season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
UT further bolstered its staff with a couple of marquee transfers in right handers Chase Dollander and Seth Halvorsen. Dollander was a weekend starter for Georgia Southern last season, earning Freshman All-America honors from Perfect Game after going 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts. Halvorsen brings SEC starting experience with him to Rocky Top after spending the entire 2021 season as Missouri's Friday night starter. Halvorsen went 4-3 for the Tigers and racked up 70 strikeouts in 14 starts. Both Dollander and Halvorsen feature elite stuff, including fastballs in the mid to upper 90s.
The Vols' also brought in highly touted freshman Chase Burns, who was selected in the 20th round of the MLB Draft out of high school but elected to come play for his home state team. Burns already boasts an impressive arsenal of pitches, including an elite fastball, and is likely to have a significant role on UT's pitching staff. Fellow class of 2021 signee J.D. McCracken, a lefty from Murfreesboro, is another freshman that could carve out a role on Tennessee's deep staff this year.
Outfield Depth Aplenty
The Vols' deepest and most experienced group is the outfield, which returns everyone from last season's team. Despite Russell's move to catcher, UT still brings back starters Jordan Beck (.271/.336/.523, 15 HR, 64 RBI) and Drew Gilbert (.274/.341/.437, 10 HR, 62 RBI), who ranked first and second on the team in runs batted in last season. Beck also tied for the team lead with 15 home runs.
Tennessee also returns senior Christian Scott, who is a .298 hitter and has scored 24 runs in 84 career at-bats, as well as Kyle Booker, who showed flashes of his immense potential as a true freshman last season, batting .310 with five doubles, a homer and 10 RBI. Junior Ethan Payne (13 GP in 2021), as well as, redshirt freshmen Jared Dickey and Hunter Ensley are also back and will push for playing time in UT's crowded outfield.
Junior college transfer Logan Chambers has showcased the versatility to play in the outfield or on the infield and could prove to be a valuable asset. Freshman Kavares Tears is another player who can play outfield or infield and has had a solid fall.