After being ranked for the first time all season and defeating Troy 11-2 in a mid-week game, No. 21 Tennessee defeated Fresno State 8-3 in the first game of the weekend series.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to four hits. Following back-to-back hits from Zach Ashford and Nolan Dempsey, Fresno State shortstop JT Arruda hit an RBI single to score Ashford. Two batters later, McCarthy Tatum grounded out to short, allowing Dempsey to score from third. Zach Fresno then singled up the middle to score Arruda.
Fresno State’s lead wouldn’t stand for long, as Tennessee responded with four runs in the bottom half of the first to claim a 4-3 lead.
Justin Ammons led off the inning with a single and then advanced to second on a throwing error from Fresno State pitcher Ryan Jensen. Jay Charleston also reached based on the error. With two runners on, Tennessee third baseman Andre Lipcius hit a two-run double to put the Vols on the board.
With Lipcius standing on second, Al Soularie hit a two-run homer over the right field fence to give the Volunteers a 4-3 lead. The home run was Soularie’s second of the season. Tennessee’s left fielder finished the afternoon 2-for-5 at the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored.
As they did in the first, the Vols scored four runs in the second.
Ammons walked with one out and two batters later, scored as Lipcius drove in his third run of the game on an RBI single. Soularie also drove in his third run of the game in the inning, scoring Lipcius on a single to shortstop.
Following Soularie’s base knock, catcher Landon Gray walked, allowing Evan Russell to advance to third and Soularie to second. With the bases loaded, Ricky Martinez then stepped to the plate and singled up the middle to extend Tennessee’s lead to 8-3.
After both teams combined to score 11 runs in the first two innings, neither team scored the rest of the game.
Starting for Tennessee, right-hander Garrett Stallings (4-0, 2.14 ERA) picked up his fourth win of the season after a rocky start in the first inning. Stallings allowed three runs on four hits in the first, but he didn’t allow a run on seven hits the rest of the way. The junior’s day was complete following six innings of work. Stallings struck out nine and walked just one batter.
As for Fresno State, Jensen (2-1, 8.14 ERA) received the start. Regarded as one of the most intriguing college baseball prospects, the hard-throwing right-hander only lasted two innings against Tennessee. Jensen allowed eight runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out three.
Following Stallings’ dominant outing, the bullpen was also dominant once again. In relief, Andrew Schultz, Chase Silseth and Redmond Walsh combined to pitch three shutout innings. The trio allowed just one hit and didn’t allow a run.