No. 11 Tennessee baseball suffered its first loss of the season on Friday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. In game one of the three-game series, the Vols lost to Wright State 5-4.
“They (Wright State) came hungry to win an SEC game,” Vols coach Tony Vitello said following the game. “I don’t think we had the mentality we’ve had on a couple of different nights this season.”
Tennessee (13-1) couldn’t get its bats going until the bottom of the eighth inning. Trailing 4-2 entering the frame and having only tallied four hits all game long, the Vols led off the inning with three consecutive hits to tie the game at four apiece.
Jake Rucker led off with a double down the right field line. On an 0-1 pitch, Alerick Soularie then doubled down the left field line to score Rucker from second. A pitch later, Luc Lipcius tied the game on an RBI single up the middle to score Soularie. The Vols ended up loading the bases after that but were unable to take the lead in the inning.
Just like Tennessee did in the bottom of the eighth, Wright State led off the top of the ninth with a runner on second after Gehrig Anglin reached on a single and then advanced to second on a throwing error from Trey Lipscomb. Anglin then advanced to third on a ground ball and came around to score the eventual game-winning run on an RBI single from Alex Alders.
The Vols couldn’t generate a rally in the bottom of the ninth. Zach Daniels, Rucker, and Soularie all struck out as Tennessee was sent down in order by Raiders RHP Jake Schrand, who picked up his first win of the season.
Wright State’s (4-8) pitchers turned in strong performances. RHP Daniel Kruezer started for the Raiders and pitched five innings. Kruezer allowed two runs on two walks and three hits while recording three strikeouts.
“You knew coming in there was a tight-cutter,” Vitello said. “That was going good for him, and he located his fastball… Their starting pitcher did do a good job, and the at-bats weren’t great in particular for our lineup.”
Connor Pavolony was the cause of one of Kruezer’s earned runs. In the bottom of the second, Pavolony hit a solo home run to center field to give the Vols an early 1-0 lead. The home run was the fourth of the season for the Tennessee catcher.
Wright State quickly responded to Pavolony’s home run. An inning later, Jay Luikart doubled to left-center to tie the game at one apiece. Two innings after tying the game, the Raiders took a 3-1 lead in the fifth on a two-run single from Zane Harris.
The three runs Wright State scratched across were the most Tennessee starter Chad Dallas has given up all season. In Dallas’ fourth start of the season, the sophomore allowed seven hits, walked one, and struck out three.
“Same thing as last weekend,” Vitello said of Dallas’ bumpy outing. “For whatever reason, his direction wasn’t great. He was falling off (the mound) to his glove side of the mound fairly often.”
Sean Hunley relieved Dallas on the mound. Hunley gave up four hits as he allowed his first earned run of the season. Though he gave up a run, he didn’t allow a walk and recorded three strikeouts.
Redmond Walsh (L, 1-1) pitched the ninth inning and allowed the go-ahead run. In his first loss of the season, Walsh allowed two hits and struck out one.
Game two of the three-game series between Tennessee and Wright State will be played on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET.