No. 19 Tennessee led wire-to-wire in a 10-0 win over George Washington on Sunday afternoon to sweep the Colonials and stay undefeated on the season.
Connor Pavolony and Luc Lipcius led the way at the plate with a home run apiece. On the mound, five different Vol pitchers combined to pitch a shutout. Tennessee (12-0) pitchers struck out eight Colonials (6-5) and didn’t give up a walk.
Sean Hunley started on the bump for the Vols. He worked into trouble in the first inning, but with runners on the corners with one out, Hunley recorded a strikeout and a pick-off at first to nip the threat. In the second inning, he sat the Colonials down in order.
Over two scoreless innings of work, Hunley allowed two hits, but he didn’t allow a walk and struck out one. Hunley has yet to allow a run in 13.0 innings this season.
“The reason Hunley was starting the game was because the last two games, we’ve lost the first three innings,” Vitello said. “So, we felt that was our best guy to go get us a zero.
“He throws strikes, so he’s going to give up hits because of the fact he throws strikes. But he’s also pretty good at throwing zeros up on the board.”
Jackson Leath (W, 3-0) relieved Hunley to begin the third inning. Leath went on to pitch 4.0 scoreless innings on his way to picking up his third win of the season. The junior struck out six and din’t allow a walk. He gave up only two hits.
“With a defense like ours, it’s pretty easy to go up there and throw strikes,” Leath said. “Just attacking hitters and getting ahead early in the count. It opens up your whole arsenal of pitches.”
While Hunley and Leath were off to a hot start on the mound, Pavolony got the offense going in the first inning. Drew Gilbert led off the game with a walk. Two batters later, Tennessee’s sophomore catcher launched a two-run home run over the left field fence. Pavolony’s third home run of the season gave the Vols a 2-0 lead.
“In my first at-bat, he wasn’t throwing much off-speed, so I was sitting on the fastball until he could prove he could throw his off-speed for a strike,” Pavolony said. “He threw me all fastballs. Then, I put a good swing on one.”
Tennessee tallied a single run in both the second and third innings. In the second frame, Trey Lipscomb hit a sacrifice fly down the right field line. Tennessee demonstrated great fundamental baseball in the third inning to get another run. Zach Daniels led off the frame with a hustle double. Pavolony then hit an opposite field single to put runners on the corner, allowing for Alerick Soularie to bring in a run on an RBI groundout.
Soularie had to leave the game in the fifth inning, however. After a walk, Soularie successfully stole second, but he hit his head on the George Washington’s shortstop’s knee while sliding into the bag. Soularie managed to walk off the field, but he had to be helped off by trainers.
“He’s good,” Vitello said after the game. “A little bit of a scare when you get hit on the head. The high throw took the shortstop up to where his knee was head level with Alerick.
“He did protocol back there, and he’s good to go.”
Tennessee scored four runs in the first three innings of the game. The Vols then put a three-spot two innings later on one swing of the bat. After Soularie and Pete Derkay walked, Luc Lipcius hit a three-run home run over the right field fence to extend the Tennessee lead to 7-0. Lipcius’ homer was his second of the season.
In the sixth inning, Pavolony drove in his third run of the game on a sacrifice fly to center field. It extended the lead Tennessee to 8-0. Pavolony finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored.
“This offense, we can can change the game in an inning,” Pavolony said. “You never get a break with us.”
“In my second at-bat, I was just trying to have a selfless at-bat and move the runner over to third base and ended up getting a knock out of it.”
The Vols scored their final two runs of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jordan Beck drove in a run on an RBI double to left. Christian Scott then drove in Beck from second on an RBI single to score the final run of the game.
On the weekend, Tennessee outscored George Washington 24-4.
Elijah Pleasants, Gilbert, and Kody Davidson closed out the game. Pleasants pitched a scoreless seventh, Gilbert pitched a scoreless eighth, and Davidson pitched a scoreless ninth, respectively. None of the three allowed a walk, and Davidson was the only one to not allow a hit or a walk.
Tennessee will be back in action on Tuesday evening against Longwood. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.