The No. 19 Tennessee Volunteers entered the third game of its series against the Colonials red hot as they were riding an 11-game win streak to open the year. The relentless Big Orange offense kept adding after getting out to an early lead as they finished off George Washington 10-0 on Sunday to make the win streak 12 and stay perfect on the year.
Sean Hunley made his first start on the mound this year for the Vols, the junior has appeared in four games prior to Sunday and has allowed just two hits and no runs over 11.0 innings pitched. He opened the game by getting into a bit of trouble in the first after giving up back-to-back one out singles to Ervin Bogan and Steve Barmakian, but worked his way out of it as he got Tyler Hix to strikeout swinging then pulled a nice pickoff move out of his bag of tricks to catch Bamakian sleeping at first to end the inning.
The offense got off to a quick start after starting both of the first two games of the series. Drew Gilbert got it all started with a leadoff walk. Connor Pavolony launched his third deep ball of the year with one out and Gilbert on first to get the Vols out to a 2-0 early lead.
“In my first at bat (the pitcher) wasn’t throwing much off-speed so I was just sitting on a fastball until he proved he could throw his offspeed,” Connor Pavolony said after the game. “He just threw me all fastballs and then I put a good swing on one.”
Hunley looked more like himself in the second as he worked through the Colonial’s lineup in order to head to the bottom of the second.
Luc Lipcius started the bottom half of the inning off with a double into right field and moved up to third on Jake Rucker’s groundout to third. Trey Lipscomb picked up a RBI when he hit a foul ball down the right field line and Lipcius tagged up to go home on the play to make it 3-0 Vols.
Jackson Leath entered to pitch in the third for the Vols and sat the George Washington hitters down 1-2-3 to bring up the middle of the order for Tennessee.
“I was just trying to reiterate what my coaches always preach for us to do on the mound,” Leath said following the game. “They always say just trust your pitches and trust your defense and just fill up the zone.”
Zach Daniels showed off his wheels as he smoked a grounder past the second baseman and stretched it into a double as he noticed the center fielder making an odd route to the ball. Pavolony kept it going as he singled through the right side to put men on the corners with no outs for Alerick Soularie. The Vols’ center fielder grounded out to short but it was a productive out as Daniels came in to score to give Tennessee a four run lead.
Leath kept dealing in the top of the fourth as he sat the Colonials down in order for the second straight inning.
The bottom of the fifth saw a scary sight as junior All-American Soularie drew a walk with one out in the inning and proceeded to steal second with Pete Derkay at the plate.
Soularie slid head first into second well before the throw, but seemed to slide right into the fielder’s knee causing Soularie to lay motionless on at second base for a few minutes. After he came back to, Soularie was helped off the field by training staff but seemed to be under his own power.
“(Alerick) is good. The high throw took the shortstop into Soularie’s path and he connected his head with the shortstop’s knee,” head coach Tony Vitello said postgame. “It’s alway a little scary getting hit in the head, but he went through protocol with the trainer and he should be good to go.”
Derkay worked a walk when play resumed to put two on for Luc Lipcius who crushed a ball into deep right center and found itself in the parking lot for a three run home run to extend UT’s lead to 7-0.
George Washington got its first hit off of Leath in the sixth when Derek Ripp singled up the middle which was followed by Joe Ward reaching base on a fielder’s choice as Ripp was thrown out at second. DiTomaso singled and the Colonials looked to be in business until Leath settled in and struck out the next two batters to close out the inning.
Tennessee just kept adding to its lead when Gilbert worked a walk and stole second to get into scoring position. He made it up to third in an error by the shortstop and then scored when Pavolony hit a sac fly to center field to drive in another manufactured run for the Vols as they made the lead 8-0 at the end of the sixth.
Elijah Pleasants entered to pitch in the top of the seventh. He started off by getting Hix to ground out to short, but Levin got ahold of a ball and sent it deep to left field where Jordan Beck crashed into the wall attempting to make the catch.
The ball popped out of Beck’s glove and fell for a double. The runner in scoring position did not affect Pleasants as he was able to retire the side by getting Boselli to fly out to first before getting Biancone to ground out to first.
The Vols were held scoreless in the seventh inning as Chris Knight struck out one and got two others to fly out to keep the Vols off the board despite issuing two straight walks.
Two-way freshman Drew Gilbert came in to pitch from center field in the top of the eighth. Gilbert was able to get the first two batters to keep the ball on the ground getting back-to-back ground outs to start off the outing. He got into trouble when Cade Fergus doubled into left field. Bogan followed Fergus up with an infield hit to put men on the corners for Barmakian with two outs, but the senior could not come through with runners in scoring position as he grounded out to second to end the threat.
Tennessee added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to make it 10-0. Landon Gray started the threat with a single before Beck stroked a double down the left field line to score the first run of the inning. Scott drove in Beck with a hard hit single past the shortstop to put the tenth and final run on the board for the Vols.
Kody Davidson emerged from the pen to close out the game as he sat down the Colonials 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to secure the win for Tennessee and to give the Vols their third straight weekend sweep to start the season.
Connor Pavolony and Luc Lipcius are the Beacon’s stars of the game as they both went 3-4 on Sunday with three RBIs and a homer each.The duo accounted for nine of the Vols’ 10 runs as the offense just kept pouring it on the Colonials.
Tennessee will take on the Longwood Lancers on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on watchESPN and, as always, the audio broadcast will be on UTSports.com.