Tennessee vs. Maryland: Vols Avoid Season-Opening Sweep

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    Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

    Tennessee didn’t have much offense at all in its first two games against Maryland. And then all at once, the bats caught fire.

    Things weren’t looking good for Tennessee in the first inning. Will Neely gave up three runs in the first inning before recording an out. After two home runs in the first frame, it looked like UT was heading toward a sweep.

    But the Vols would explode with a ton of offense in the bottom half.

    Three straight RBI doubles by the Vols’ two-through-four hitters gave Tennessee the lead. Then Wyatt Stapp knocked in Pete Derkay for his first career RBI to extend the lead.

    The second inning was a similar story. Three straight walks loaded the bases with no outs, setting the table for an Andre Lipcius grand slam. But the Vols still weren’t done. Nico Mascia singled up the middle later in the inning to bring home Benito Santiago. That made it 10-3 Tennessee.

    [quote on hitting]

    The Vols continued to pour it on late, adding _ more runs by the end of the night.

    Neely bounced back fairly well after three runs to start the game. Vitello said…

    [quote on Neely]

    Overall, Vitello thought…

    [quote on what he learned from the series as a whole]

    Game Two: Maryland 10, Tennessee 4

    Tennessee (0-2) dropped the first of two games against Maryland (2-0) on Sunday afternoon. The Terps pulled away late en route to a 10-4 win. They’ll play again at 4 pm this afternoon.

    Maryland never led until the ninth inning.  That’s because the early story was Tennessee pitcher Garrett Stallings. The sophomore gave up just three hits on 50 pitches in his season debut. He had to exit the game with two outs in the fifth when he took a line drive to his throwing arm.

    After he left the game, the Terrapins finally got on the board. Maryland scored its first run off a Richard Jackson wild pitch, tying the game at one.

    In the first inning, an unlikely source provided the first run of the season for the Vols. Sophomore left fielder Jay Charleston led off with a home run, the first of his career. It came on the ninth pitch of the at bat.

    But after the Terrapins tied it in the sixth, things got interesting.

    Tennessee responded with a run in the sixth to take the lead. Then Maryland scored another in the seventh. Then UT scored two in the bottom half to take a 4-2 lead. And then two runs for Maryland in the eighth to tie it again.

    The Vols didn’t have an answer in the bottom half. Benito Santiago singled to lead off the inning, but was caught in a 4-6-3 double play a few pitches later.

    Maryland, however, wasn’t done. Kevin Biondic tripled to lead off the ninth against UT’s Connor Darling. Then Justin Morris walked. Leadoff hitter Marty Costes brought them both in with a 2-run double to right center to take control of the game.

    Then things went from bad to worse. Darling gave up six earned runs in the ninth, giving Maryland a large advantage heading into the bottom half. The Vols were retired in order to finish the game.

    [quote on bullpen]

    Game One: Maryland 4, Tennessee 0

    Tennessee dropped its first game of the season on Friday night to Maryland, managing just six hits in the 4-0 loss.  Maryland starter Taylor Bloom confused Tennessee’s hitters all night, spoiling Tony Vitello’s head coaching debut.

    At the plate, Vitello said his team was timid. And when four players make their career debut in the same game, that’s bound to happen.

    “At the plate, the attitude needs to change,” Vitello said after the game. “If you go to the plate not expecting success and just hoping, you’re going to do a lot of hoping as you walk back to the dugout, and that’s what we had tonight. That’s the main theme.”

    Other than a Jay Charleston infield single and a Wyatt Stapp blooper, the Vols couldn’t get anything going. In the seventh, Benito Santiago hit a hard single to lead off the inning. Then Stapp moved him to second with a two out base hit. But pinch-hitter Nico Mascia flew out to center.

    That was the biggest threat the Vols had all night against Bloom.

    Maryland Nick Dunn was the difference for the Terrapins. The preseason All-American hit two solo home runs off Linginfelter and Crochet. On a night where the Tennessee pitching staff wasn’t bad, Dunn sill made them pay for a few mistakes.

    Vitello said his pitchers can take some confidence that most of the damage was done by one player. But that still doesn’t count for much in the win column.

    Overall, Vitello was pleased with how his pitchers performed. Especially his freshman relief pitchers, Chase Wallace and Garrett Crochet.

    “I thought they did great,” Vitello said. “Really good stuff. (Chase Wallace) is going to be a dynamite pitcher for us. He’s got a steep incline of improvement that we’ll see. Garrett Crochet is going to be a superstar. He’s just got to learn to locate pitches in a couple of different situations.”