Staff Report: SPORTS

The Tennessee baseball team was unable to build on the momentum from a four-game winning streak, as South Carolina swept the three-game series with the Vols in Columbia.

In the first game of the series, the Gamecocks dominated from start to finish, winning the game by a score of 6-1. Tennessee was only able to pick up two hits in the game.

South Carolina jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, using an error to score three unearned runs. They added two more runs in the third inning and scored on a wild pitch in the fifth to make it 6-0.

“Four mistakes in the first inning that were pretty obvious to see cost us,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “From there it is pretty tough to come back when you have a first rounder on the mound and a capable bullpen behind him.”

The Vols did not have a runner in scoring position until the sixth inning, when Justin Ammons reached on an error. Tennessee’s first hit came in the seventh inning, which was a two-out single by freshman Evan Russell.

Tennessee’s lone run came when sophomore Brandon Chinea scored on a wild pitch in the eighth inning.

Freshman Garrett Crochet started on the mound for the Vols. He gave up six runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings pitched. The Tennessee bullpen threw 3.1 shutout innings behind him.

“You always have to find a positive,” Vitello said. “Those guys were prepared because they were used on Tuesday, and they got out there and took advantage of their opportunity…some of those guys have not pitched either in SEC or on the road in the SEC.”

The Vols bats found more success in the second game of the series, but the scoreboard did not show it, as South Carolina won 6-2.

After three scoreless frames to start the game, the Gamecocks took a 2-0 lead on solo home runs in the fourth inning and fifth inning. Despite putting runners in scoring position twice early in the game, Tennessee failed to score until the sixth inning.

“We never really captured the momentum, but I felt we captured the essence of what we are trying to do and that’s to play hard,” Vitello said. “That’s all we can ask from them: to show up and compete the way they did tonight.”

After Ammons walked and Jay Charleston doubled, Andre Lipcius hit an RBI groundout to cut the South Carolina deficit in half. The Gamecocks added two runs in the bottom half of the inning and their final two runs in the seventh.

Ammons scored on a throwing error in the eighth to wrap up the scoring for the game.

Sophomore Garrett Stallings was Tennessee’s starter in the game. Stallings threw six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits while striking out four batters.

“He was asked to take the ball on four days’ rest and really was tremendous other than about two pitches,” Vitello said.

South Carolina continued the trend of scoring six runs per game in the series finale on Saturday, beating the Vols 6-3. The Gamecocks jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a sacrifice fly.

Tennessee took its first lead of the series in the fourth inning by putting three runs on the board to take a two-run lead. Lipcius hit a two-RBI double to left field and Evan Russell drove him in with a single.

Two innings later, the Gamecocks scored a run to make it 3-2. The tying run was scored in the seventh inning when Zach Linginfelter walked a batter with the bases loaded. South Carolina added three more runs in the eighth inning.

Junior pitcher Will Neely started the game for Tennessee. Neely pitched 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. He also struck out five.

The Vols will be back in action when Belmont comes to town for a midweek game at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Tuesday’s game will start at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network +.

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