Baseball vs South Carolina

#25, Zach Linginfelter, pitches against South Carolina on March 23, 2019 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.  

The Tennessee baseball team defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 8-2 on Saturday afternoon in Lexington to finish off a three-game sweep. This was the first road series sweep in Southeastern Conference play for Tennessee since 2010 against Georgia.

The Vols had a pair of four-run innings on Saturday, which propelled them to victory. Early on in the game, it was shaping out to be a pitchers’ duel as starting pitchers Zach Linginfelter and Zach Thompson were both dominant through five shutout innings, allowing just three combined hits.

Linginfelter improved to 6-4 on the year, allowing two runs on five and four strikeouts. On the other side, Thompson got his first loss of the season, allowing four runs (two earned) on four hits over seven innings.

However, in the sixth, Tennessee was able to capture the momentum in the game as it batted all the way through the lineup. Thompson struggled with his command all inning, as he hit three batters. Tennessee was able to take advantage of a shaken Thompson, picking up two big hits on their way to scoring four runs in the inning. The Vols were great with runners in scoring position in the game, going 5-for-12, while picking up three two-out hits.

Andre Lipcius got the first run of the game for the Vols on an RBI groundout and Al Soularie followed with a two-run double to extend the Tennessee lead to 3-0. Later in the inning, Evan Russell drove in the final run of the inning with an RBI single to the right-center field gap to score Soularie.

Just as it did in game one on Thursday, Kentucky responded to an early deficit with a pair of solo home runs. In the bottom of the sixth, Zeke Lewis hit the first of the two home runs for the Wildcats, the first of his career. Then, it was Ryan Shinn’s turn, who drove a ball over the wall to bring Kentucky to back within two runs.

Kentucky threatened again in the seventh with a leadoff double by Austin Schultz. That is when Tennessee decided to bring in Camden Sewell from the bullpen. Sewell responded, as he got T.J Collett to fly out, caught Schultz trying to steal third, and struck out Dalton Reed to end the inning and keep Kentucky from getting any closer.

With the Vols leading 4-2, they were able to break the game open with another four-run inning in the eighth. Jake Rucker drove in a run with an RBI fielder’s choice. Justin Ammons followed that with a single to left center that scored two more runs to extend the lead to 7-2. Ammons would then score on a wild pitch to finish the scoring on the afternoon.

Tennessee completed just its second series sweep in league play under Tony Vitello. The other time occurred last season when they won all three games against Alabama at home. It was the third sweep overall for the Vols, after they won each of the games against Appalachian State and Indiana to start the season. With Saturday’s victory, Tennessee also reached the 30-win mark for the first time since 2014m when the team finished with a record of 31-23.

Tennessee will return home on Tuesday for a midweek contest against Gardner Webb, before traveling to Arkansas next weekend. First pitch for the game on Tuesday is set for 6 p.m. at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

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