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No. 19 Tennessee Rolls to Mid-Week Win over NKU

No. 19 Tennessee cruised to a 15-1 win over Northern Kentucky on Tuesday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Two days after wrapping up a sweep of the inaugural Round Rock Classic where they outscored their opponents 21-8, the Vols tallied 11 hits off of NKU pitchers on Tuesday night. Tennessee (8-0) scored a run in five of the eight innings in which it appeared at the plate.

“Today we went 1-0,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said after the game. “The key is to keep doing things the right way.”

Alerick Soularie got the scoring going in the first inning, hitting an RBI single through the left side to give the Vols an early 1-0 lead. Landon Gray then hit his first home run of the season in the second inning to extend the lead to 2-0.

Tennessee proceeded to score 10 runs over the next two innings.

In the third inning, the Vols drew five walks with the bases loaded on their way to bringing in six runs in the inning. The only run that did not come off a walk was on an RBI groundout from Luc Lipcius.

Rather than Northern Kentucky (0-8) walking in runs as it did in the third, the Vols manufactured runs with their bats in the fourth inning. Evan Russell hit a two-run double before Drew Gilbert reached on a fielding error to score Trey Lipscomb. Pete Derkay capped the four-run fourth inning with a pinch-hit RBI single to extend the Tennessee lead to 12-0.

After Northern Kentucky’s Jake Murray hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth to make it 12-1, the Vols quickly responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to put the game away. Gilbert drove in a run on an RBI groundout, and Derkay hit a two-run homer off of one of the light poles beyond the right field wall.

“I just go up there and try to have a quality at-bat every single time,” Derkay said. “I just try to stay locked in and have fun with it because I’m playing the greatest game on earth.”

Derkay is now hitting .714 on the season in five games. Coming off the bench in pinch-hit roles, Derkay is 5-for-7 at the plate with a home run and seven RBI. He’s scored three runs, has been hit by a pitch, and j=has only struck out once.

“He’s such a good kid and such a good teammate,” Vitello said of Derkay. “He’s made such a jump in maturity. It’s a tougher kid than when we first got here.”

Tennessee was just as dominant on the mound as it was at the plate. Freshman Christian Delashmit (W, 1-0) made his first career start and pitched 4.1 innings to pick up his first career win. Delashmit allowed no runs on three hits and allowed just one walk. The right-hander picked up seven strikeouts on 70 pitches.

“Deli (Delashmit) showed you that he’s a potential starter for the rest of his career here,” Vitello said. “Tennessee grown kid who loves the Vols.

“It’s just been a maturity thing for him, learning the little ins-and-outs that probably weren’t as important in high school. He was part of a state championship high school team, so he’s always had a lot of success… the background was there, but he needed some seasoning.”

Delashmit had appeared in two games prior to his first career start on Tuesday. The Covington, Tennessee native had given up one run on three hits in 2.0 innings of work in his prior appearances. With his start against NKU, Delashmit knocked his ERA down from 4.50 to 1.35.

“I’ve been working with (Frank Anderson) on my changeup,” Delashmit explained. “Just the changeup and sinker worked real good today.

“Today was really the first time I’ve been hyped up about pitching since my freshman year of high school. The adrenaline was pumping, the team was yelling, it was unreal.”

After Delashmit made his first career start, Ethan Anderson made his first appearance on the mound as a Vol before Kirby Connell returned from injury to make his first collegiate appearance.

Anderson allowed one run on two hits in 2.0 innings of work and struck out two batters. Connell also picked up two strikeouts in addition to giving up two hits, but he didn’t allow a run in his 2.0 innings of work.

“I came to work excited about those three things happening (Delashmit, Anderson, and Connell pitching),” Vitello said. “I thought all three kids handled it great.”

Tennessee will be back in action on Wednesday afternoon for its second and final mid-week game before this weekend’s three-game series with George Washington. The Vols will welcome UNC Asheville (2-5) tomorrow afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET.

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