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Evan Russell, Luc Lipcius Overtake Todd Helton As Tennessee Home Run Kings

Evan Russell became Tennessee’s all-time home run leader with his fifth inning home run in game two of the Super Regional against Notre Dame. Russell’s 39th career home run pulled him one ahead of Vol great Todd Helton and teammate Luc Lipcius.

Russell’s solo reign at the top lasted all of two batters before Luc Lipcius’ second home run of the weekend gave Tennessee a, 9-0, lead.

The left-handed first baseman has 17 home runs this season after tying for the team-high with 15 home runs in 2021. Lipcius tied the record in the same inning that Russell broke it. Lipcius led off the inning with a home run, Evan Russell’s home run ran John Michael Bertrand from the game and Lipcius’ three-run homer broke things open.

“You try to just go out there and play,” Lipcius said of them exchanging the home run lead. “Of course, it’s impossible not to think about it. But like I said, it’s just a game and no one’s really chasing these records. It’s really cool after the fact that it happened, and Todd Helton is one of the greats of Tennessee and of all time. It’s really cool that two old guys are just hanging out up there at the top. You know it doesn’t really matter to me; I want him to have as much success as he can. I bet he wants me to have as much success as I can. I just want to see us win that last game this season.”

While Helton hit 38 home runs in three seasons compared to Russell’s five, Russell hit his 39 home runs in 744 at-bats compared to Helton’s 756 at-bats. Lipcius did it in 620 at-bats in his six year career.

“It was a pretty surreal moment,” Russell said after tying the record against Mississippi State. “I figured it was coming and the more we play the better chances I have of breaking it. Rounding the bases, it was almost just a wild feeling because I never would have thought it would have happened whenever I first started on campus. To be able to do something that took a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication means a lot to me.”

The west Tennessee native breaks the record just eight days after missing the Knoxville Regional opener leading to wild speculation and rumors. ESPN announcers stated that Russell tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and that the NCAA suspended him for the remainder of the season. Tennessee strongly refuted that claim and the announcer apologized Saturday.

Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said Russell was “sick” following the Vols’ tournament opening win over Alabama State. After the catcher was cleared to play Saturday, his day — Jason Russell — stated that Evan was dealing with “anxiety, stress and pressure” in a tweet.

Russell hit three home runs his freshman season, six home runs his sophomore season, two home runs in his COVID-19 shortened junior season, 14 home runs in his senior season and now sits at 14 home runs in his super senior season.

While the Lexington, Tennessee native flashed his power hitting at times in his first two seasons in Knoxville, Russell didn’t come on the scene as a power hitter until the 2021 season. The left fielder turned catcher tallied three home run games in wins over LSU and Vanderbilt, taking second round pick Jaden Hill deep twice and the second pick in the 2021 MLB Draft Jack Letter deep twice.

Russell is no stranger to multi-home run games in his Tennessee career, recording three this season and six in his Tennessee career.

“Baseball is just a confidence game,” Russell said after hitting two home runs against Georgia earlier this season. “If it’s going well early in the game, as long as you stay out of your own way, or for me especially, if I stay out of my own way good things will tend to come later throughout the game. If my swing is usually feeling good, my approach is sort of to the middle of the field, I can sort of get some momentum going and get some multi home run games.”

The left-handed first baseman has 16 home runs this season after tying for the team-high with 15 home runs in 2021. Lipcius tied the record in the same inning that Russell broke it.

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