Jeremy Pruitt’s squad may have had the weekend off, but Tony Vitello’s players made the most of their first fall scrimmage of 2019 against Clemson.
The Vols and Tigers linked up on Saturday afternoon to play two eight-inning scrimmages as part of their fall ball schedule. Tennessee won both games, winning the first session 7-2 and the second session 3-0. Combined, the Vols outscored Clemson 10-2 over 16 innings.
Pitching and fielding carried the Vols to an NCAA Tournament birth last season. Despite losing key arms such as Garrett Stallings and Zach Linginfelter to the MLB Draft, it appears as if Vitello has reloaded on the mound.
First Scrimmage Session
The potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Garrett Crochet, started for the Vols in the first session. Crochet threw two scoreless and hitless innings. He struck out three of the six batters he faced and walked one.
Seven other pitchers received work over the course of the first session against Clemson. Here’s how they performed.
- Tanner Kohlhepp pitched the third inning and didn’t allow a run, though he did allow two hits. The sophomore threw 12 pitches.
- Sophomore right-hander Camden Sewell pitched one inning, and though he didn’t allow a hit on 17 pitches, he did allow a run because of a walk. He added one strikeout.
- Jason Rackers, a JUCO signee, didn’t allow a run in 1.0 inning of work. Rackers struck out two on 12 pitches.
- Highly touted freshman Drew Gilbert, who has generated quite a bit of buzz, allowed one hit, but did not allow a run. Gilbert struck out one.
- Jackson Leath pitched a scoreless and hitless seventh inning.
- Christian Delashmit faced five batters and allowed one run on two hits.
- Redshirt junior Redmond Walsh faced one batter to end the first session of the scrimmage, and he struck him out.
Like the pitching staff, the lineup faces the task of replacing several key players from last year’s roster. The most notable departure is third-round draft pick Andre Lipcius, who leaves a vacancy at third base.
The job appears to be Trey Lipscomb’s to lose, and he wasted no time stepping up against Clemson and producing. During the first session, the sophomore was 3-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs, and two runs scored.
Two of the three outfield spots are also vacated with the loss of Jay Charleston and Justin Ammons to professional baseball. Junior Matt Turino appears destined to win the centerfield job to replace Charleston thanks to his defensive ability, though sophomore Christian Scott won’t go down without a fight. Senior Evan Russell and junior Zach Daniels are poised to fight it out for the third outfield spot, as is highly-touted freshman Jordan Beck. Russell, Daniels, and Beck will also receive their share of at-bats as the designated hitter.
Against Clemson in the first session, the lineup consisted of sophomore Max Ferguson leading off and playing second, Lipscomb playing third and batting second, Alerick Soularie playing left field and batting third, Luc Lipcius hitting clean up and playing first, Russell playing right field and batting fifth, Turino hitting sixth and playing center, Beck hitting seventh as the designated hitter, Connor Pavolony playing catcher and hitting eighth, and sophomore Jake Rucker hitting ninth and playing short.
The following is how the Vols scored in the first scrimmage to win 7-2.
- Ferguson led things off with a single in the bottom of the first inning. Lipscomb then drove him in on an RBI double to make it 1-0.
- In the bottom of the fourth inning, after Clemson tied it at 1-1 on a balk from Sewell, the Tigers shortstop made a throwing error that allowed Daniels to score, giving the Vols a 2-1 lead.
- Later in the bottom of the fourth, Rucker – who is playing shortstop following the departure of Ricky Martinez to professional baseball – hit an RBI single to make it 3-1.
- In the bottom of the fifth, Lipscomb hit a solo bomb off of the scoreboard in right field to extend Tennessee’s lead to 4-1.
- Daniels hit a two-run home run in the seventh to cap a three-run inning and extend the Vols lead to 7-1.
Second Scrimmage Session
After a 35-40 minute break in between sessions, junior Chase Wallace received the start on the bump. Wallace, who has had an impressive offseason and is pushing for a spot in the weekend rotation, dominated the Tigers. The right-hander struck out four in 2.0 innings of work. He allowed just one hit and didn’t give up a walk.
After Wallace’s day was done, six different Vols received work on the mound as Frank Anderson’s group shut out Clemson 3-0. Here’s how the staff performed:
- Kirby Connell relieved Wallace and allowed just one hit in one inning of work. He struck out one of the four batters he faced.
- Sophomore Elijah Pleasants pitched a near-perfect fourth inning. Pleasants didn’t allow a run or a hit and struck out two in 14 pitches.
- Kody Davidson followed Pleasants, and though he allowed one walk, he didn’t allow a run or a hit on 12 pitches
- Mark McLaughlin then pitched and allowed just one hit. He struck out one on 18 pitches.
- Ethan Anderson pitched the seventh inning and threw 10 pitches as he recorded a strikeout. Anderson didn’t allow a hit or a run.
- JUCO signee Chad Dallas pitched the final inning of the game and didn’t allow a run. Dallas did give up one hit and struck out one on 17 pitches.
The lineup for the second session consisted of Daniels leading off and playing right field, Turino hitting second and playing center, sophomore Austin Knight playing and hitting third, senior Landon Gray behind the dish and batting cleanup, Beck hitting fifth as the designated hitter, freshman Cortland Lawson playing second and batting sixth, Lipcius hitting seventh and playing first, Rucker hitting eighth and playing short, and freshman Zane Keener playing left field and batting ninth.
Scott was 2-for-3 with an RBI, as was Gray, who also hit a home run. Beck finished 2-for-2 with a walk.
Here’s a look at how the lineup scored three runs to notch the second win of the day:
- Scott singled home Alerick Soularie to give Tennessee a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
- In the bottom of the sixth, Gray hit a ball over the scoreboard in right field to extend the Vols lead to 2-0. Gray is expected to platoon with Pavolony behind the plate this year.
- Later in the sixth inning, Ferguson hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Russell and make it 3-0 Tennessee.
Tennessee will play one other scrimmage this fall before playing its annual Orange and White World Series during the last week of October. The Vols will travel to Nashville on Oct. 20 to face Xavier.
Though not publicly announced, multiple sources have indicated to Rocky Top Insider that Year 3 under Vitello will begin the weekend of February 14th with a three-game series against Western Illinois — a week before the Vols participate in the Round Rock Classic in Round Rock, Texas. Tennessee will face Texas Tech on February 21st, Houston on February 22nd, and Stanford on February 23rd.
UT will then host George Washington and Wright State as part of separate three-game series before beginning conference play with a trip to South Carolina the weekend of March 13th.
Along with a trip to Columbia to face the Gamecocks, the Vols will have three-game SEC road trips to Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas A&M. Tennessee will host Vanderbilt, LSU, Florida, Kentucky, and Arkansas in Lindsey Nelson as part of the SEC schedule.
As for mid-week games, match-ups with Charlotte, Northern Kentucky, UNC-Asheville, Longwood, ETSU, Georgia State, UT-Martin, Georgia Southern, Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Morehead State, Lipscomb, and Belmont are all on the docket.
Tennessee’s game with Tennessee-Martin is scheduled for March 24th and will be played at Smokies Stadium — home of the Tennessee Smokies, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.