via UTSports information
KNOXVLLE, Tenn. – Tennessee used a five-run, two-out rally in the fifth inning to pull away from Arkansas Pine Bluff and cruise to a 9-1 win over the Golden Lions on Wednesday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Andre Lipcius led the Volunteers’ attack with three hits and three RBI while a handful of freshmen also played significant roles for the Big Orange.
Sean Hunley earned his first-career victory after tossing 4.2 scoreless innings while scattering four hits. A trio of freshmen consisting of Riley Watkins, Redmond Walsh and Joshua Plummer combined to pitch the final 4.1 innings, allowing just a single hit and one run between them.
Evan Russell also had a strong day in his first-career start, reaching base three times while driving in a run with his first-career hit.
Fellow freshman Brandon Trammell got his first start as well, scoring two runs and recording his first hit with a double in the fourth inning.
Pete Derkay drove in the first run of the game with an RBI groundout to give the Vols an early lead in the bottom of the first. UT added another run in the fourth when Trammell came in to score on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
Tennessee scored five runs in the sixth – all with two outs – to bust the game open and extend its lead to 7-0. Russell singled home Trammell for his first-career hit before consecutive hit batters with the bases loaded plated two more UT runs. Lipcius capped the scoring in the inning with a two-run single to score Jay Charleston and Justin Ammons.
The Golden Lions broke up the Vols’ shutout bid on an RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Cutter McDonald in the top of the seventh, but UT answered with another pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth after back-to-back RBI doubles from Lipcius and Brandon Chinea.
Fresh Faces Everywhere
Five freshman started and eight saw action in Wednesday’s game against Arkansas Pine Bluff. Evan Russell and Brandon Trammell both started for the first time in their careers while Sean Hunley made his second start of the year on the mound.
All three had solid performances on the afternoon. Hunley did not allow a run and scattered four hits in 4.2 innings of work. Trammell recorded his first-career hit with a double in the fourth inning and also scored two runs while Russell reached base three times and drove in a run with an RBI single in the sixth inning.
The freshmen trio of Riley Watkins, Redmond Walsh and Joshua Plummer out of the bullpen was dominant, allowing just one run on one hit over 4.1 innings of action.
Andre Lipcius Continues to Produce
Tennessee’s sophomore shortstop had yet another strong game at the plate, leading the team with three hits and three RBI to up his team-leading total to 14.
Tennessee welcomes in-state rivals ETSU, Memphis and Middle Tennessee to Lindsey Nelson Stadium this weekend for the 2018 Tri-Star Classic. The Vols will take on ETSU on Friday, Memphis on Saturday and Middle Tennessee on Sunday.
Head Coach Tony Vitello
On balancing playing younger guys and getting a win tonight:
“I challenge you to get on a junior college box score and find a team that was younger than the one we put out there (tonight). I kind of messed it up by putting Brodie (Leftridge) in the game. Other than that, I think it was just freshman and the four sophomores at the top of the lineup. That’s a good and a bad thing. That means we’ve got some young guys that can really play, and I wouldn’t call it a bad thing, but it’s a definite that we don’t have that much experience. We have to make sure the repetitions we do get or the lessons learned that present themselves really stick.”
On how he feels about the upcoming Tri-Star Classic being moved to Lindsey Nelson Stadium:
“It’s bittersweet to an extent. We have a good relationship with the Smokies folks, and I think they put in a lot of hard work to make it a great event. It would have been nice for us to get on the road for the first time during the year and not really be on the road, kind of taking baby steps, but this is Lindsey Nelson. This is where we come to work every day. It will be a little easier for our fans despite all the things going on this weekend with basketball, softball and some other things. We would rather be on our turf than anyone else’s at the end of the day.”
On if today was just an off-day for Benito Santiago:
“Yes, we’re really trying to pick our spots. He’s going to have to catch close to 50 games, so you pick your spots where you’d like to give him a little bit of relief. The other things is that we need to see what’s what. Nico (Mascia) had yet to catch for the University of Tennessee until today. To get him back there today made me feel a little more comfortable because he looked like he did in the scrimmages. He can handle our guys and can throw it a little bit. He’s given us quality at-bats, so he’s a well-rounded player that’s available back there. I feel a little more confident too that (Evan) Russell has gotten at least one inning and we’ve seen it. Add Pete (Derkay) in the mix and maybe we’ve got a little depth than we’re complaining about back there.”
Sophomore SS Andre Lipcius
On how it was watching the younger guys play tonight:
“It was great. It’s so much fun getting to watch it. Guys like Brandon Trammell and Evan Russell are always up in the locker before the game, and it’s really nice to see them play.”
On if it will be easier to face Middle Tennessee this weekend after playing them yesterday:
“Baseball is different every single day and anything can happen every single day. You have to take every day the same, work the same and hope you come out on top.”
On if it’s a positive thing getting to play the Tri-Star Classic at home:
“Yes. We practice every single day on this field, so I think we are way less likely to make any errors than any other team, especially in the infield. It definitely gives us an advantage.”