The Tennessee baseball team didn’t have a single RBI on Saturday, but due to some elite pitching and a huge Mississippi State mistake, the Vols were able to pick up a 2-1 win, evening up the series against the Bulldogs.
Here are three takeaways.
Tip of the cap to Zach Linginfelter
Zach Linginfelter came into Saturday’s game with a ERA of 9.95 and in his last outing he gave up eight hits and seven runs in 1.1 innings of work.
Linginfelter put his troubles in the rearview Saturday, as the junior turned in a strong outing against the Bulldogs’ elite lineup.
“It’s always good to bounceback,” Linginfelter said. “You don’t ever want to be in a position where you do have to bounceback. I felt good tonight and let my stuff work.”
Linginfelter didn’t have his best stuff, as he struggled to put batters away striking out only three, but he found a way to keep getting outs and keep the Vols in the game.
The Sevierville, Tennessee native gave the Vols 6.2 innings giving up only five hits and one run.
“I was just mixing pitches,” Linginfelter said. “I don’t think my stuff was honestly that great tonight. Keeping them out front a little bit and using the fastball. They seemed late on it, so I was just moving it around.”
The bounceback start was remarkably impressive, given it came against a lineup with seven batters hitting over .300.
Tennessee’s lineup didn’t give Linginfelter a whole lot of help either, but the Vols were able to lean on Linginfelter and Redmond Walsh, who threw 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Nothing going for the Vols’ offense
JT Ginn was supposed to get the start for Mississippi State on Saturday, but due to illness the Bulldogs’ Saturday starter was unable to go.
RHP Peyton Plumlee started in his place and had the Volunteers lineup off balance all night. Plumlee only allowed one earned run and two hits in his 5.2 innings pitched.
The bullpen worked just as well as Plumlee, as the Vols ended the game with only three hits, a season low.
“They were really mixing early,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “Plumlee is under control all the time so he’s gonna challenge you to be under control. We had some guys out of control… If you wake up on a loss in this league to down on yourself you’re gonna beatdown really easy the next day.
“I don’t think we had a full fledged case of that, but there was a little bit of that lingering around.”
The Vols’ offense did reach base on balls three times and the Bulldogs hit one Tennessee batter. The opportunities mixed with some good situational baseball and a big break were all Tennessee needed to pick up win number 23.
Going into the fifth inning, Mississippi State’s Plumlee was dominating the Tennessee lineup. The Bulldogs senior had only given up one hit and struck out three.
Max Ferguson led off the inning for the Vols, working a full count before walking. Jake Rucker followed up the walk by showing bunt before striking a liner over the third baseman's head.
Landon Gray came to the plate with nobody out and two on and laid down a bunt moving both runners over. The Bulldogs got Gray at first base and the Mississippi State first basemen Tanner Allen tossed the ball back to Plumlee.
Plumlee forgot to ask for time from the umpire before tossing the ball into the Bulldogs dugout. Since time wasn’t called before the ball went out of play it was ruled as an error and both runners were awarded two bases. Both Ferguson and Rucker scored, giving Tennessee a 2-1 lead.
“I really truly believe our team deserved a break,” Vitello said. “It certainly was a break… With what these guys do around here every day and how they’ve competed they deserved a break.”
The series rubber match between Mississippi State and Tennessee is set for a 2 p.m. start Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.