Tennessee Adds To National Home Run Lead In Dominant Series Opening Win Over Ole Miss

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Tennessee made the most of its first opportunity against No. 1 Ole Miss this weekend, smoking the Rebels, 12-1, Friday night at Swayze Field.

Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin opened up the fun throwing out the first pitch but that’s where the fun ended for those in the red-and-blue.

Evan Russell opened the scoring with an RBI single in the second inning and that opened up the floodgates for a dominant night for Tennessee’s bats. Four at-bats later Jared Dickey sent a two-run bomb over the right field wall and the Vols had a commanding 6-0 lead.

“The thing I saw was some really good takes out of guys on borderline pitches,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “Where as, if you can get going too fast on a guy that has good rise on his fastball and his changeup is his best secondary pitch where he can pull the string on you, that will go a long way for you. So we talk about playing the long game a lot of different ways and I think that tempo that guys had in the box was the secret to success in that inning.”

Tennessee entered the weekend with a nation leading 59 home runs and added five more long balls in Friday’s series opener.

Luc Lipcius pushed the Vols’ lead to 7-0 with a home run that left the entire park in the fourth inning, Trey Lipscomb homered to right field into the Ole Miss dugout in what appeared to be the dagger in fifth inning, Jared Dickey’s second home run of the game came in the sixth inning and a pinch-hitting Blake Burke ended the fun with a solo blast in the ninth inning.

Tennessee’s lead kept expanding and expanding as freshman Chase Burns was dominant in his SEC road debut. The highly-touted freshman retired the first 13 Rebels he faced while compiling 11 strikeouts in seven innings pitched.

The Gallatin, Tennessee native held Ole Miss off the scoreboard until Tim Elko’s solo home run with one-out in the seventh inning ended the shutout. Still, Burns allowed just two baserunners in the outing.

In starts against then-No. 1 Texas, South Carolina and No. 1 Ole Miss, opponents have totaled six hits and three runs while striking out 30 times in 18.2 innings pitched. Not bad for a true freshman.

“It’s old news that he’s a mature kid and a really good competitor,” Vitello said. “Obviously he has really good stuff too. Does he have the world completely figured out? No. But I think we’re past that deal of being concerned about whether he’s going to prepare the right way or be mature in certain situations. It’s just a matter of him going out and competing. Anytime you do that you’d like to be better that the other guy, but it’s not always going to be that way. But he’s going to pitch for a long-long time and as the years go by he’s going to win a lot of battles.”

“Yeah I definitely do as a freshman,” Burns said of taking pride in being the Friday night starter. “Being able to have this opportunity that the staff gave me gives me a lot of confidence.”

The Vols are looking to clinch the series on the road Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET.

Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.