The Tennessee Volunteers opened their series against the George Washington Colonials with a 7-1 win, but the Vols needed a late inning rally to get past the Colonials. Tennessee struggled to piece together hits against GWU’s starter Harrison Cohen until something clicked in the seventh inning and the bats got rolling.
Here are a few takeaways from the game:
Watch out for wild pitches
In the seventh inning, the Vols were hit by back-to-back pitches which seemingly helped kickstart the offense as the Vols scored five runs after Jake Rucker was first hit by pitch.
Rucker found himself down 1-2 in the count with two outs and needed to find a way to get on base to keep the inning rolling as the Vols had just taken a 2-1 lead. George Washington’s pitcher Trevor Kuncl threw a pitch that ran too far inside, Rucker turned his back and wore the pitch to keep the rally alive as he loaded the bases. Alerick Soularie then came up with bases loaded and two outs, and on the first pitch was hit high on the back by Kuncl which brought in a run and extended Tennessee’s lead to 3-1.
Those two hit by pitches were key to getting deeper into the Colonials’ bullpen and helping the Vols produce more runs in the next inning to extend their win streak to 10 games.
“Really the only way we got to this team was by just wearing them down,” head coach Tony Vitello said after the game. “George Washington didn’t make any mistakes so our only option became just to wear their pitcher down.”
Say goodbye to those balls
Prior to Friday’s game, Tennessee ranked second in the nation in home runs with 16 as a team. Today they added two more, beginning with Luc Lipcius’ solo shot off the scoreboard to leadoff the seventh inning and ultimately spark the Volunteers’ comeback.
“It was a fastball, I dropped my hands and just got a really good barrel on it,” junior Luc Lipcius said referring to his game-tying home run. “Our energy was good throughout the game, we just struggled to get the big hits. Later in the game we banded together and grinded out at-bats and started producing runs.”
Trey Lipscomb hit his first career home run and picked up four RBIs from it as the sophomore deposited a ball over the road behind left field with the bases loaded for a grand slam which put the game out of reach for the Colonials.
The Vols are up to 18 home runs on the season, which have contributed greatly to Tennessee’s 118 runs so far this season which is the most a Vols team has scored in the first 10 games of the season since 2004.
Can’t hit Hunley
Tennessee’s pitching staff has received its fair share of talk in the media as the staff has been lights out this year, but on that list on names is junior Sean Hunley, who has been lights out for the Vols thus far.
Hunley entered the game in the eighth to finish off the Colonials and he did that quickly. The Mt. Juliet, Tennessee native sat down all six batters he faced to close out the game and pick up his third save of the year.
Hunley is up to 11.0 IP and has yet to surrender a run while giving up just two hits. He has struck out 10 of the 35 batters faced this season and kept opposing hitter’s average to a whopping .057. Hunley will see crucial innings once Tennessee gets into the meat of its schedule and has the chance to be a game changer if he can continue performing like he has so far.
The Volunteers continue their series against George Washington with game two on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. The game has been moved up an hour due to colder weather from its previously set time of 4 p.m. Tennessee will start Chase Wallace on the mound as it looks to keep the win streak going.