The Tennessee Volunteers entered their midweek matchup against Northern Kentucky fresh off of a successful business trip to Texas as the Vols improved to 7-0 to enter the rankings for the first time this year at No. 19. Tennessee used a big third inning where they hung six runs after drawing eight walks to get past the Norse.
Christian Delashmit got his first start on the mound as he went 4.2 innings and struck out seven while only walking one. The freshman tossed a three hit shutout in his second appearance for the Vols which was good enough to pick up his first career win on Rocky Top.
“Christian handled it great today,” head coach Tony Vitello said on Delashmit’s first start. “He got ripped on his first few at-bats, but it’s a part of the game when you are throwing strikes. He’s showing us that he has real potential to be a starter for his whole career here and we are really excited about that.”
The surging Tennessee offense was able to stay patient as it faced a struggling Northern Kentucky staff that has given up an average of 14 runs per game. The Vols opened up the Max Ferguson drawing a walk and then stealing second. Zach Daniels then hit into a fielder’s choice, but Ferguson was able to stay in a rundown long enough to allow Daniels to make it up to second.
Ferguson was stepped on as he slid into third, he had to leave the game due to a hand injury and will likely be out for Wednesday's game against UNC Asheville as well.
Alerick Soularie singled to drive in second for the Vols lone run in the first inning.
Delashmit made quick work of the Norse in the top of the second to bring the 7-8-9 hitters up for UT.
“I’ve been working a lot with Coach A (Anderson) on my change up all of fall,” starting pitcher Christian Delashmit said postgame. “My change up and sinker combo worked really good today. It helped that I had my teammates out there yelling at me, it really got me hyped up to be on the mound.”
The Norse brought in Nick Noble to face the Vols for the second inning as Northern Kentucky put a new man on the mound to start every inning until the sixth inning. Landon Gray put the second run on the board for the Big Orange as he hit a missile off of the scoreboard in right to extend Tennessee’s lead to 2-0.
The third inning is where it got ugly as Northern Kentucky walked eight Vols in the inning yet only gave up one hit, but surrendered six runs as the game started turning into a blow out as the inning ended with Tennessee leading 8-0.
The Vols hung four more runs on the board with two courtesy of an Evan Russell double into left center to increase the Vols’ lead 10. Drew Gilbert followed that up with a hard hit grounder to the second baseman who let it sneak through to score one, Gilbert did not pick up the RBI as it was scored an E5. Pete Derkay entered in as a pinch hitter and kept his hot bench bat going as he roped a ball into right center to drive in Luc Lipcius as the Vols exited the inning up 12-0.
Jake Pease was able to quiet the Tennessee offense in the fifth inning as he sat down three of the four Vols he faced during the inning.
Pease was the first Norse pitcher to toss multiple innings as he emerged from the dugout to take the mound for the sixth. During the sixth, Tennessee added three more to the board as Gilbert hit into a fielder’s choice with Austin Knight on third to bring in a run. The next man up was Derkay who launched a ball into right field and clanked off the light tower over the home bullpen to tack two more runs on to make it 15-1.
“I’m just going up there trying to have a quality at bat each time,” senior Pete Derkay said after the game. “I’m coming off the bench right now and that’s my role so I’m going to try to be the best I can at it and it helps that I’m blessed to be playing the best game on earth.”
The Vols only had one man reach base during the seventh and eighth as six of seven batters were retired with Knight's single to left being the only exception.
Kirby Connell took the mound for the Vols in the eighth and ninth as he closed out the game allowing two hits over the two innings while striking out two Norse batters and walking none.
The newly named No. 19 Volunteers picked up their eighth win of the season to improve to 8-0 while the Northern Kentucky Norse fell to 0-8 on the year.
Pete Derkay is the Beacon’s player of the game as he finished the game with two hits, three RBIs and two runs scored after coming off the bench in the fourth inning. He is currently hitting .714 on the year with an .800 average as a pinch hitter.
The Vols will be back in action tomorrow, Wednesday February 26, as the UNC Asheville Bulldogs (2-5) visit Lindsey Nelson Stadium for some midweek action before Tennessee enters a three game series against George Washington beginning on Friday.