The No. 4 Tennessee baseball team was unable to find that big hit in its 4-1 midweek loss to Lipscomb at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Vols drop to 32-10 overall after Tuesday’s loss, while the Bisons climb to 14-22 with their win.
“I think what I saw, right or wrong, was guys tensing up in those situations,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “It was evident that after an odd first couple of innings that there was a little bit of locking up in the dugout as well. The environment was that of trying not to lose a game or in fear of losing a game that is on your field that you feel you should win. It bled into some of those at-bats and made them not carry a lot of tension.”
The Vols recorded eight hits and seven walks against Lipscomb, but scored just one run, after leaving 13 runners on base. In six different innings Tennessee had a runner at either second or third base. The Vols also had the bases loaded twice, but failed to score a run in both situations.
“I think maybe we were just trying to do too much in those situations,” Pete Derkay said. “In previous weeks, we kind of just let things happen, that’s a big saying for us, just let it happen. I feel like we were trying to force some things to happen and when you force things to happen, it doesn’t always work out the best.”
Tiger Borom jumped started the Bisons’ lineup at the leadoff spot. The speedy right fielder went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. Malik Williams belted an RBI double to right field. Maddux Houghton drove in a run off of a single.
All four runs were scored in the first two innings of Tuesday night’s low-scoring affair. Williams opened up the game with an RBI double in the top of the first inning. Tennessee answered in the bottom of the inning after taking advantage of a Lipscomb mistake.
The final two runs of the game came in the top of the second, as Borom slashed a two-run single back up the middle and Houghton capped off the scoring with a single of his own to give Lipscomb a 4-1 lead.
Jason Rackers started on the bump for Tennessee and lasted just 1.1 innings after surrendering three runs (one earned) on three hits. Elijah Pleasants entered in relief and endured a rough outing. The lengthy righthander gave up one run on two hits and a walk while recording just one out.
“Rackers would have to speak for himself,” Vitello said. “I haven’t spoken with him, but he didn’t throw the ball like he was 100% convinced that he is recovered from his surgery and his rehab and things like that. That was my vantage point, and maybe it's overly critical. Elijah, at the very least, was letting the ball go. We started to see the velocity that he should be throwing with. He had a chance to make a couple of pitches in certain situations that would have bailed up out, and it’s a lot easier said than done, but that’s what would have been needed when we called him out of the bullpen quickly.”
Mark McLaughlin threw a solid 3.2 innings of no-hit, six-strikeout ball and bullpen mate Camden Sewell did the same with three strikeouts over 2.1 innings of work.
Patrick Williams earned the win for the Bisons out of the bullpen after delivering two shutout innings. Tyler Drabick pitched well enough for the save after throwing two shutout innings of his own while punching out three Vols to help his team earn the victory.
Up next for Tennessee is a weekend series against Kentucky from April 29-May 1 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.