Vols Baseball vs Western Illinois

The Tennessee Volunteer baseball team defeated Charlotte, 8-2, on a rainy Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Vols are now 4-0 on the season, and Charlotte drops to 1-3. Starter Elijah Pleasants was the winning pitcher; he is now 1-0. Trae Starnes takes the loss to move to 1-1. 

“I think that there were a couple guys that we could have given them situations on offense and gotten them some at-bats,” said coach Tony Vitello. “You saw that we put a guy in like Jordan Beck and he is really capable of being left in the lineup and being capable of doing well all year, in my opinion. They did what they needed to do but I didn’t do what I needed to do. Again, it is experimentation and trying to figure out what you have before SEC play when you are gonna be tested to the limits.”

Making it Rain

Tennessee’s offense was led by Jake Rucker and Zach Daniels. Rucker hit a two-run shot over the left field porch in the first inning and Daniels hit a double that bounced off the center field wall to drive in two more. The Vols’ offense in total had 10 hits, and six walks. 

Daniels has a .462 average with two home runs, eight RBIs, and six runs through the first four games of the season. These numbers are already close to eclipsing his production from last season. The junior hit just four home runs and drove in 10 runs during the 2019 campaign. 

“Last year was a year where we said that we would be unable to hit for power,” said Vitello. “I think now we have a good combination of coach Elander working with our hitters and coach Q working in the weight room with guys, and guys are getting older too. We just have a perfect storm with this lineup. I don’t think we have the approach to just wail away up there, but it is there and it is a compliment.”

This is the third straight game where Tennessee has recorded at least 10 hits. In 2019, the Vols reached the double digit hit mark in three consecutive games just once. 

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Pleasants made his first start of the year and recorded his first career win. The right hander went five innings and gave up six hits and two runs, one earned, and also finished with three strikeouts to zero walks. 

“It was really fun being out there and coach trusting me enough to put me out there,” said Pleasants. “I think it went a lot different than my start from last year. I have learned a lot from my coaches and my teammates gave me a ton of confidence today.”

The sophomore set career highs in innings pitched (5.0) and strikeouts (three). Last season, Pleasants made just 11 appearances and pitched a total of 11 innings. 

Tennessee used four pitchers after taking Pleasants out of the game. Sean Hunley, Will Mabrey, Christian Delashit, and Redmond Walsh gave the Vols four total innings of work and allowed just one hit, while striking out six on zero walks. 

The Vols will travel to Round Rock, Texas for the Round Rock Classic. Tennessee’s first game of the three game tournament will be against No. 1 Texas Tech on Friday at 8 p.m.

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