The Tennessee baseball team went on the road this weekend and swept Kentucky to improve to 9-9 in SEC play. The sweep was the Vols’ first conference road sweep since sweeping Georgia in 2010.
Let’s see how they graded out:
Tennessee’s offense was struggling coming into the weekend, but they broke out in a big way, scoring 28 runs and tying the Fresno State series for the highest scoring series of the season.
The Vols were helped by some sloppy Wildcat defense, Kentucky had five errors and allowed runs on three wild pitches, but Tennessee did enough at the plate to consider the weekend a massive success.
Tennessee got contributions from nearly every player in its lineup, including RBIs from 10 different Volunteers.
Tennessee also got some power out of its lineup this weekend, as the Vols hit three home runs, including a huge go-ahead homer by Al Soularie in the eighth inning of Thursday’s 4-2 win.
Soularie led the Vols at the plate this weekend, going 3-for-10 with three walks and three RBIs.
Pete Derkay had a solid weekend coming off the bench and hitting 3-for-5 with three RBIs.
All three of Tennessee’s starting pitchers were good for the Vols this weekend, going deep into the game and allowing a total of five runs.
Garrett Crochet made it 6.2 innings in Thursday’s series opener and had his best stuff. Crochet struck out eight Wildcat batters while allowing six hits and two runs.
He gave up a pair of solo homers, but neither were particularly bad pitches and more of a case of good hitting. Crochet wouldn’t pick up the win, but he kept the deficit to only one, which allowed Tennessee to snag the lead after he exited.
Garrett Stallings built on his excellent junior season, giving up only one run in seven innings. The junior likely could've gone the distance, but the game went into rain delay in the top of the eighth and Stallings didn’t re-enter after the one-hour and 29-minute delay.
Tennessee saw a good Zach Linginfelter this weekend, as the Sevierville, Tenn., native bounced back from his poor performance against Georgia.
Linginfelter threw six innings, giving up only four hits, but two runs thanks to a pair of solo shots. The junior exited with a lead and picked up the win.
Tennessee’s bullpen turned in a scoreless weekend of work in 7.1 innings. Andrew Schultz and Redmond Walsh took Tennessee the distance in Thursday night’s close win, allowing only one base runner.
Will Neely didn’t allow a run in his two innings of work in Tennessee’s blowout win on Friday.
Camden Sewell came in with Tennessee holding a two run lead in the seventh inning of Saturday’s win and stranded a runner with some help by catching a Wildcat runner stealing.
Walsh closed out the game throwing a scoreless eighth and ninth inning as Tennessee’s batters gave the Vols some space, scoring four runs in the eighth and expanding the lead to 8-2.
Walsh’s 2.2 scoreless innings improved the redshirt sophomore’s strong season as his ERA is now just 0.35.
For the third time in as many weekends, Tennessee has had a pinch-hit home run. This week’s came when Derkay provided an insurance run in the eighth inning of Thursday night’s win.
The moves to the bullpen all seemed to come at the right time for the Vols, and Vitello gave his starters a little extra leeway to work through some mistakes. He was rewarded by getting a few more outs from Crochet, but showed he was ready to make a change after Linginfelter gave up a hit to lead off the seventh inning on Saturday.
Vitello used Friday’s blowout win as an opportunity to get some young guys some SEC experience, subbing five guys in during the win. That effort won’t pay dividends this season, but very well could down the road.
Vitello seems to be really pushing the right buttons on his team right now and has this young squad believing they can win, no matter who’s in the other dugout.
There aren’t a lot of bad things to say after a series that saw Tennessee outscore its opponent, 28-5. Tennessee completely dominated Kentucky all weekend while picking up three wins.
The sweep helps the Vols avenge the Auburn series that saw Tennessee get swept in the opening weekend of conference play.
Tennessee did a little bit of everything well this weekend.
Starting pitchers went deep into games, the bullpen shut the Wildcats down, the lineup provided some pop, the Vols ran the bases well, and Max Ferguson and Soularie made run-saving plays in the field.
Granted the competition wasn’t the best, Kentucky is just 4-14 in conference play, but this was probably Tennessee’s most complete weekend of the season.