No. 11 Tennessee lost its first weekend series of the season on Sunday with a 6-3 loss to Wright State in the series finale.
As was the theme all weekend, the Vols struggled to hit with runners on base. Tennessee (14-2) tallied eight hits but managed just three hits in 22 at-bats with runners on. Wright State (5-9) on the other hand, was 6-for-15 with runners on base as the Raiders scored six runs on eight hits.
Chase Wallace (L, 1-1) made his fourth start of the season for the Vols. Wallace only allowed two runs on four hits in 4.0 innings of work, but a shaky third and fourth inning led to him being pulled early.
“You don’t know whether you took a guy out or left him in too long or timed it perfect unit the game is over and you look at the scoreboard,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said following the game. “It started to go downward a little bit, and I wasn’t going to wait around any longer for it to go even further downhill.”
In the third, Wallace gave up a two-out walk before giving up a double to the left field corner off the bat of Gehrig Anglin, which gave Wright State an early 1-0 lead.
Wallace then allowed back-to-back singles to begin the fourth inning. After bobbling a bunt single, the Raiders then had the bases loaded with no outs. Wallace managed to induce a double play, but Wright State still scored a run on the ground ball to extend the lead to 2-0.
Wright State put the game away with a four-run sixth inning. Following a hit by pitch to start the inning, Drew Gilbert gave up a two-run home run to Tyler Black that extended the Raiders’ lead to 4-0. Vitello called on Kody Davidson to relieve Gilbert with runners on first and second. Davidson promptly plunked the first batter he faced to load the bases and then allowed a two-run single up the middle to make it a 6-0 ball game.
Austin Cline started on the bump for Wright State. Cline improved to 2-2 on the season behind 5.0 scoreless innings of work. He allowed just three hits and gave up one walk while striking out three.
Tennessee was able to touch up Wright State’s relievers in an effort to come back. The Vols scored two in the seventh off RHP Sam Wirsing. UT second baseman Max Ferguson hit an RBI single through the right side, and then a batter later, Zach Daniels hit an RBI ground out to make it a 6-2 game
The Vols made it a 6-3 game in the bottom of the ninth on a fielder’s choice from Ferguson who reached first safely on the play. With runners on first and second with one out, Tennessee continued to threaten late. But Christian Scott struck out looking and Jake Rucker flew out to right field to end the game.
“This is a 56-game season,” Vitello said. “They put together a good game plan, and our guys never adjusted.
“We put together a good game plan, that’s step one. Step two is you have to execute it. If you’re going to be a good team and a good player, and mainly a good offense, you have to adjust when things aren’t going well. Our offense never really did that the whole weekend.”
Tennessee will play one midweek game this week before turning its attention to conference play. The Vols will play East Tennessee State (10-2) on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Vitello’s squad will then head to Columbia, South Carolina over the weekend for their first weekend of SEC play. Tennessee will face the Gamecocks on Friday in game one of the three-game series at 7 p.m. ET. The two teams will then square off at 4 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.