Baseball vs Mississippi State

#27 Garrett Stallings pitches during the game against Mississippi State on Friday April 5, 2019 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.  

Tennessee used its NCAA-best eighth shutout of the season to improve to 26-10 on the season, defeating No. 2 Georgia, 3-0, on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Similarly to Thursday night’s game, Tennessee and Georgia got into a pitcher’s duel between two of the best pitching staffs in the country. Garrett Stallings was brilliant for the Vols, turning in a complete-game shutout while only allowing five hits and only walking one batter. 

Georgia’s C.J. Smith got the start for the Bulldogs and was solid, turning in three scoreless innings to start the game. The Bulldogs’ lefty threw five innings total, allowing four hits and three runs while striking out three.

Tennessee struck first in the fourth inning. Andre Lipcius got Tennessee started with a leadoff walk before Al Soularie drove one off the left field wall, giving the Vols runners on second and third with nobody out.

Justin Ammons got his first RBI of the night with a sac-fly to left field, giving the Vols a 1-0 lead.

Tennessee added some cushion in the sixth inning due to some big at-bats from familiar faces.

Zach Daniels doubled to deep right-center field to lead-off the inning before Lipcius worked a nine pitch at-bat into left field for an RBI single.

Cole Wilcox came in in relief for Georgia, and Soularie singled off the first pitch he saw to give Tennessee runners on the corners with nobody out. Ammons picked up his second sac-fly of the night, flying out to center field but scoring Lipcius and extending the Vols’ lead to 3-0.

“That’s kinda been our offense,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “It’s not a wow-you offense, there has been a couple occasions where it gets explosive for our guys, but it’s been more battle, battle, battle and maybe when there is a little leak maybe the floodgates will open. Against a team like Georgia the floodgates are two runs.”

A wild pitch allowed Soularie to reach third with one-out, but Wilcox stranded the runner. It wouldn’t make a difference, as Stallings was the star of Friday night’s win.

“I don’t really know how to describe it,” Vitello said. “It was incredible. He deserves everything he gets with how hard he works.”

Stallings kept Bulldog’ batters off balance all night, striking out five and keeping the ball on the ground.

“I think it was my movement,” Stallings said. “They were seeing it well, but just not getting all of it. Our infield played excellent today and made all the plays. It was good for us.”

Georgia rarely threatened Friday night, as the Bulldogs didn’t reach third once on the night. Stallings was able to work quickly, getting 10 one-pitch at-bats and five two-pitch at-bats. Just as impressively, Stallings only got into four three-ball counts on Friday night, none of which came after the fourth inning.

“He kept his composure, he was working quick, both sides of the plate and mixing off-speed pitches,” Vitello said. “He’s gotten really good at paying attention to who these hitters are… He’s a thinking man on top of competing with his heart, and that’s a dangerous combination.”

The shutout made it back-to-back shutouts for Tennessee over Georgia. The combination was the first time Tennessee shut out consecutive conference opponents since 1995.

The series win is the program’s first over a top five team since 2016, when the Vols took two out of three games over No. 4 Vanderbilt.

Tennessee will go for the series sweep over Georgia tomorrow. First pitch is set for 3:00 p.m. at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

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