Vols Baseball vs ETSU
Tennessee's Evan Russell with a swing against ETSU at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

The No. 15 Tennessee baseball team lost both matches of their Saturday doubleheader against Indiana State. A lack of offense plagued the first game, while poor pitching occurred in the second game. After today, the Vols drop to 6-2 on the year while the Sycamores climb to 3-3 overall.

“This was the first time that we were playing a doubleheader this season, so I think it’s good to get that experience for one,” first baseman Luc Lipcius. “For two, there were a lot of negatives, but there were also a lot of positives. I liked how we really competed in the ninth inning of the first game, that’s going to be huge for us through the rest of the season. In the second game, that big sixth inning where we scored five runs, that’s huge, a lot of teams could just crumble and rollover, but not us. I think going forward, it was the kick in the pants that we needed.”

Offense MIA

Tennessee wasn’t able to string together anything offensive in game one. The Vols tallied just five hits, two of them came before the ninth inning. Jordan Beck drove in the club’s only run after belting a triple to right center field. Other than that, Tennessee stranded eight runners.

The Vols started a rally in the ninth as they started the inning with back-to-back singles from Lipcius and Connor Pavolony. The wheels came off from there after Drew Gilbert singled to right-center field but passed Pavolony on the base paths which resulted in an out. Christian Scott struck out with runners on second and third and Pete Derkay flew out to end the game, giving Indiana State the 3-1 victory.

The offense didn’t show up in the early part of game two either. Tennessee squandered two bases loaded situations, one in the third inning and the other in the fourth. This helped keep them in an early 5-0 hole.

Eventually, the Vols bats woke up and tallied five runs in the sixth inning. Liam Spence drove in two runs, while Rucker plated another two off of a single. Gilbert was the other hitter for Tennessee to drive in a run.

However, Tennessee recorded just nine hits in game two, while striking out 13 times and leaving 12 runners on base. The mistakes were too much to overcome and Tennessee was left wondering what happened at the end of a 7-5 ballgame.

“I think you saw a lot of guys not doing a good job with two strikes,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “A few guys didn’t cover the outer half, a few guys were out front, some guys took huge hacks with two strikes that you would have liked them to have taken earlier in the count. There were opportunities prior to two-strikes to get it done with a better approach. That’s kind of what I saw and credit their guys for making pitches. It will be interesting to review each one of those with some video review because they were all some big situations.”

Pitching to Mixed Results

Pitching was the name of the game for the Vols in the opener. Blade Tidwell earned the start for Tennessee and went four innings, while surrendering four hits and two runs (one earned) and striking out six. Will Heflin entered in a relief spot in the fifth inning. The senior kept the Vols in the game despite giving up a run, he too gave up four hits over 4.2 innings of work.

“Blade is obviously an extremely talented freshman and I thought he made some adjustments from his first collegiate outing to this weekend, so that was good to see,” Heflin said. “He is always trying to get better and he will get better as the season goes along. You have got to credit the other team a little bit. They put some pretty good swings on balls.”

Tennessee fell behind early to start out game two. Elijah Pleasants took control of the bump early and promptly gave up five runs over two innings of work. The Vols were put in an early 5-0 hole and went to Camden Sewell out of the pen. Sewell didn’t fare much better, giving up two runs in the fifth, increasing Tennessee’s deficit to seven.

Kirby Connell was the lone bright spot for Tennessee’s pitchers. The sophomore allowed just two baserunners and struck out three over 4.1 innings of work.

Up next

Tennessee will look to close out the series against Indiana State on a good note tomorrow at 1 p.m. inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

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