Tennessee Squanders Opening Game, While Standing On 3rd Base

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Things don’t always work out like you would think, especially in the game of baseball, which Tennessee figured out on Sunday. In front of over 21,000 fans, the Vols took the field to the cheers of fans clad in orange, looking to rally behind Chad Dallas.

Unfortunately for Tennessee on Sunday, there wasn’t much the defense could do to prevent what was coming. First off, the Vols hitting was atrocious, as the Vols left 8 runners in scoring position and were 0-4 with runners on 3rd base, with less than 2 outs.

It was April 16th, the Vols lost to Vanderbilt 5-0, which was the last time Tennessee was shutout in a game. So, on Sunday, not much was changing. Chad Dallas threw 6.1 innings, giving up 4 runs on 8 hits. He seemed pretty dialed in, until the 7th inning, as he gave up consecutive RBI-singles, putting the Vols down 3-0.

But we will get back to that. Tennessee lost this game because of all the runners they left standing on third base and their presence in the batters box. They were hesitant in their approach to pitches and it felt like they weren’t aggressive enough with their base running. It felt like they were content on playing it safe.

The only Tennessee batter to have over 1 hit on Sunday was Pete Derkay, who finished the day 2-4. Simply put, the Vols couldn’t muster anything but a single, which led to their downfall. You have to give credit to Andrew Abbott, who pitched a great game for Virginia, finishing with 10 K’s, only giving up 5 hits.

The Vols had 6 hits on Sunday, but not one was longer than a single, which won’t get you very far in a setting like this. It started in the first inning and carried on, as the Vols left two runners on base, with Spence at 3rd.  It only continued from there and left the Vols in horrible positions.

Tony Vitello discussed his team struggling at times today at the plate, where this team lacked pure aggressiveness, especially against a tough pitcher.

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“There were times we lacked conviction and then when the score wasn’t what we wanted, we lost our edge that has been so beneficial to us. Vols fans deserve better. Not the happiest Father’s Day for our guys.”

It was interesting postgame to hear Tony Vitello say that they could’ve been more aggressive at times, which is understanding. They had multiple opportunities to make this a game, but they just couldn’t get anything going with runners at 3rd, and it came back to bite them.

Knowing this Tennessee offense can flip the script at any time, it was tough for Tennessee fans to sit their and watch this team leave runners in scoring position, during the 5th and 6th inning. This was right before the floodgates opened up for the Cavaliers.

Virginia scored 4 runs in the 7th, which came on multiple singles and stolen bases, leaving Tennessee trailing 5-0. It was over after that, as it felt the Vols were just holding on, this didn’t have the feel of a big comeback. Things just seemed clearly off for the Tennessee today.

“We just didn’t have enough conviction to do it”, Connor Pavolony said postgame, which he referenced during an at-bat where he said check-swung on a 3-2 count, leaving his headed to the dugout.

This was the type of play that Tennessee was missing today. The aggressive, no hold back at-bat, which they’ve leaned on all season. There were so many missed opportunities today, either on the bases or in the batters box, things that aren’t common for this squad.

Tony Vitello said postgame that he didn’t think the moment was overwhelming for his players, but at times it felt like certain situations were. This is a squad that prides itself on battling back through tough moments, but that fight was going their way today. It wasn’t for lack of effort, but maybe this team can learn from Sunday’s mistakes, because Tuesday could be the end of their season if they don’t.

So now it’s all about Tuesday, can this team bounce back is the questions. Can they play like they did in Hoover during the SEC Tournament and fight back? Time will tell, but with a performance like today, they’ll be heading home on Wednesday morning.

They have to play with more conviction, which we all know they have.