The No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers defeated the Longwood Lancers, 28-2, at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Tuesday night. Tennessee continues to stay undefeated and currently sits at 13-0, while Longwood falls to 3-10. The winning pitcher was Christian Delashmit (2-0) and the losing pitcher was Dillon Champagne (1-1).
“We are gonna highlight the positives in this game but we also have to go through some of the negative that I wrote down,” said head coach Tony Vitello. “Rucker had one of the biggest at-bats of the game and he got jammed but at the same time, he got the job done and that’s what it is all about.”
The Vols started off hot, scoring four runs in each of the first three innings. Zach Daniels hit a one-out double in the bottom of the first to give Tennessee its first baserunner. Jake Rucker walked right after, which left a man on first and second for Alerick Soulaire. The junior hit a wall scraper to left field to drive in the first three runs of the game. Two batters later, Jordan Beck hit a ground rule double to drive in Luc Lipcius to push Vols’ lead to 4-0.
“Definitely, in our first fall game, we had like six or eight homeruns in the ball game,” said Daniels. “We have had guys putting in work in the weight room with (strength coach Quentin Eberhardt) and have just really matured physically.”
In the second inning, Tennessee played the waiting game and saw their first three hitters walk in their plate appearances. Jake Rucker hit into a fielder's choice to drive in a run and to advance runner to second and third. Then, pitcher Zane Eggleston threw a wild pitch which helped Gilbert to cross home plate. Soularie walked, which eventually led to a double steal and another Vols run. Lipcius doubled in the final run of the inning to put Tennessee ahead, 8-2.
Gilbert doubled in a run during the third inning after a runner scored on a passed ball. Jae Rucker came to the plate three batters later and hit a sac-fly. The final run came courtesy of Lipcius’ single. Longwood made their third pitching change of the game and were able to stop the bleeding with the Vols up 12-2 at the end of three.
Mark McLaughlin got the start for Tennessee and went two innings and gave up three hits and two runs, while striking out three. Christian Delashmit entered in relief and went two innings as well. The righty only gave up a hit and struck out four batters and also recorded the win for the Vols.
Tennessee continued to play the bullpen game. Koby Davidson entered the game in the fifth inning and struck out the side. Will Mabrey and Kirby Connell pitched the next two innings and combined for zero hits, two strikeouts and zero walks.
“Kirby Connell was the biggest bright spot for me,” said Vitello. “We were talking about in the coaches locker room that he looked like himself but better. We were excited about that and know more will happen because he is healthy now.”
Longwood pitcher Dillon Champagne lasted just one inning. He gave up three hits, five runs (all earned), three walks, and tallied one strikeout. Longwood used eight pitchers and Michael Tolson was the only pitcher for the Lancers to not give up a run.
The Vols welcome Wright State to Knoxville for a weekend series on March 6-8. The first game of the series starts on Friday at 6:30 p.m.