Tennessee was left with a sour taste in its mouth last season following a loss to Middle Tennessee State in extra innings.
After a two-run go-ahead home run in the top of the 12th from the Blue Raiders, Tennessee wasn’t pleased with the MTSU treating the victory as if it had won the World Series. The game concluded a two-game series in which both dugouts were chirping at one another, and both teams were seen yelling at each other on the field.
“Take it how you see it, but we don’t like the way they talked to us on our field,” Tennessee third baseman Andre Lipcius said following the game.
Fast forward to this season, where Lipcius and his teammates haven’t forgotten about last year’s shenanigans.
“You can say our team is really looking forward to that game,” Lipcius said following Tuesday’s 7-1 win over Liberty.
Unlike game two of last year’s series with Middle Tennessee, the Vols handled business on Wednesday afternoon, picking up a 2-0 victory. The win marked Tennessee’s sixth shutout victory on the season.
“The bottom line is that the pitching is very well-coached by Frank (Anderson),” Tony Vitello said following the game. “To keep throwing shutouts, that’s a tall challenge. That’s not really our expectation, but to have more weapons, I think it’s a reality.”
Freshman right-hander Camden Sewell received his first career start in the rematch. The Cleveland, Tennessee native promptly pithed six shutout innings, allowing just one hit – the only one allowed by the Vols in the game.
“He was his usual self,” Vitello said of Sewell. “He made a couple big league pitches.
“With the first start, you don’t know if he’s going to be himself, and he was himself.”
Sewell also recorded five strikeouts and walked just two batters as he picked up his first career win.
“It was amazing,” Sewell said. “My fastball and slider were good towards the end of the game, but at the beginning of the game, I was trying to do too much with my slider.
“That’s why in the first two innings, I had two walks. Then I kind of settled in after that and was throwing strikes and not trying to do too much with it.”
Tennessee got the scoring going early on, tacking on a run in the bottom of the first inning. Right fielder Justin Ammons singled to lead off the inning and after advancing to third on an MTSU throwing error, scored on an RBI groundout from left fielder Evan Russell.
The Vols wouldn’t score again until the seventh inning when Jay Charleston hit a two-out RBI single up the middle to score Luc Lipcius. Lipcius had led off the inning with a double to right field and advanced to third on a ground ball.
Two runs would be all that Tennessee could manage. And it was all they needed.
The Vols tallied a season-high 12 hits on the afternoon, but they stranded nine runners on base.
Ammons, L. Lipcius, and Al Soularie all recorded multi-hit games. Ammons was 2-of-4 at the plate with a run score while Lipcius was 2-for-4 as well with a double and a run scored. In his second start of the season, Soularie had a career-high three hits.
“I felt pretty good,” Soularie stated. “We’re having a blast. In practice we prepare like no other.”
With Sewell positioning the Vols to win another game, Vitello relied on Will Heflin, Chase Wallace, Chase Silseth, and Redmond Walsh to close out the game. They combined to pitch three scoreless innings and didn’t allow a hit. Walsh pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his second save of the season.
With Tennessee’s nine-game home-stand to begin the season coming to a conclusion, the Vols will now travel to Pensacola, Florida this weekend. As part of the Cox Diamond Invitational, Tennessee will face Louisiana Monroe at 3 p.m. ET on Friday, North Florida at 4 p.m. on Saturday, and Western Kentucky at noon on Sunday.
“We’ve got a lot of business to take care of ahead,” Vitello said. “That’s going to be a fun deal.”
Following a game with Troy in Hoover, Alabama on Tuesday, Tennessee will return home for a three-game series with Fresno State beginning on March 8th.