Tennessee baseball wrapped up its first series of the 2016 campaign last weekend, taking two out of three from Memphis, and this week the Vols head to Phoenix for a three-game set at the Grand Canyon Classic which begins Friday evening at 9 p.m. ET against Grand Canyon University.
The Vols put up big runs over the weekend, scoring eight in the first two games and five in the rubber match. Cleanup hitter and senior left fielder Vincent Jackson went 5-for-10 with one home run in the series, which was only the fifth of his career.
Sophomore Zach Warren and senior Andy Cox picked up the two wins on the hill over the Tigers. Cox struck out four in his four-inning debut, giving up one run. In game three, Warren gave up just two hits and struck out one in four innings of work.
Cox has a knack for striking batters out. He rang up 63 batters in 67 innings pitched last season. Most of those innings came in relief, as Cox appeared in 21 games, including seven starts. He posted a 3.36 ERA and allowed a .247 batting average to his opponents in 2015, and will likely be called upon to start more games this season.
Over the summer sophomore Zach Warren was an All-Star in the Alaska League and was ranked its third best prospect. Warren featured in only eight games last season, but following an impressive summer of work, will likely have a more prominent role in the pitching rotation this season.
At the plate, preseason All American and infielder Nick Senzel got off to a solid start against Memphis. The Knoxville native knocked in three RBIs, while also scoring three runs of his own. Senzel received plenty of offseason accolades coming off a big sophomore year, where he hit for a .325 average with 28 RBIs.
This weekend Tennessee heads to Phoenix, taking on Grand Canyon University, Saint Mary’s and Central Michigan. Tournament host Grand Canyon took two of four from Gonzaga to start their season, giving up 21 runs in the second game. Tennessee won two out of three against the Antelopes last season in Knoxville.
Saint Mary’s is 4-1, taking three out of four from Seattle and defeating UC Santa Barbara. The Gaels rely heavily on solid starting pitching. Their staff posted a 2.60 ERA in their first four games. They completed last season with a 28-27 record.
Central Michigan was swept in three games by No. 22 Arkansas to start the season. After a 35-22 record in 2015, CMU was picked as the favorites to win the MAC West this season.
The Vols open their home campaign on Wednesday against Cincinnati at 4 p.m ET.