Baseball vs. Belmont

Alerick Soularie at bat for Tennessee baseball in a game against Belmont on Tuesday, April 2. 

The Tennessee baseball team jumped out to an early lead, and did not look back from there, putting together an impressive performance on both offense and defense.

The Vols were able to get on the board early on in the game, scoring three runs in the first. After Justin Ammons led off the inning with a walk, he stole second and advanced to third on an error by the Belmont catcher, who sailed his throw into center field. Ammons would come in to score on a single by Jay Charleston to give Tennessee a 1-0 lead. The run in the first made it six straight games the Vols have scored in the opening inning.

“It is always amazing to jump on a team in the first inning right out of the gate,” Ammons said. “You always want to score first, to give you an extra boost over the other team, especially when we are at home.”

Later in the first, after back-to-back hit batters, Evan Russell hit a sac fly to center to add on another run. The next batter for the Vols, Pete Derkay, singled to give Tennessee a 3-0 lead after the first.

Tennessee would not let up in the second, adding two more runs. Tennessee scored both of its runs in the second by doing what it does best- base stealing and playing small ball.

After Connor Pavolony led off the inning with a walk, Max Ferguson reached base as well with a bunt single. Tennessee scored its first of two runs in the inning on a wild pitch to push the lead to 4-0. Charleston would go on to add another run for the Vols on another sac fly.

“I feel like the portfolio is becoming more and more diverse,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “I don’t think we have the most explosive offense in the SEC, but it is slowly becoming one of the most well balanced.”

Belmont would respond in the third, scoring its first run of the evening. After Grayson Taylor singled for the Bruins, Zach Ehrhart triple to right field to put Belmont on the board, trimming the deficit to 5-1.

Unfortunately for Belmont, Tennessee would get that run back in the sixth, once again scoring on a sac fly, the second of the evening for Charleston. In total, Charleston would finish the night with three RBIs.

“When we have a guy on third base, my only job is to get him in,” Charleston said. “It is always big to get runners across the board, that’s the name of the game and that’s what we are trying to do.”

Belmont would go on to add another run in the seventh, but could not get enough offense to catch up with the Vols. Tennessee’s offense was extremely effective, scoring a total of six runs on nine hits.

On the mound, Tennessee used seven different pitchers, who combined to give up just two runs on five hits. Zach Linginfelter got the start for Tennessee, throwing one scoreless inning. The winning pitcher on the night was Will Heflin, who threw three innings, giving up one run on two Bruin hits.

“(Zach) He wanted the ball, he initiated it. He wanted the ball and was anxious to pitch,” Vitello said. “He is our Saturday starter and he will get the ball this Saturday. He was amped up the first couple of pitches, but after that he settled in.”

The next pitcher for Tennessee was Elijah Plesants, who continued his dominant work this season. Pleasants pitched two scoreless innings and has yet to give up an earned run this season. Tennessee finished the game off with the combination of Sean Hunley, Richard Jackson, Chase Silseth, and Andrew Schultz.

For the Bruins, Michael Matter got the loss on the mound, giving up three earned runs in the first. In total, the Bruins gave up six runs on nine Tennessee hits.

Tennessee will be back in action this weekend when it hosts No. 8 Mississippi State for a three-game series. First pitch for Friday’s night game is set for 6:30 p.m. at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

“We feel great coming back from a Sunday win against Vanderbilt, then a win tonight,” Ammons said. “This is definitely a confidence boost, people are playing great so it should be a pretty good Friday night.”

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