Tennessee baseball out-dueled Mississippi State on Friday night in Knoxville, winning 12-8 to clinch the series and prevent a rubber match.
The Vols are averaging 10 runs a game against the Bulldogs, as the offense has continued to excel since it burst onto the scene last weekend in the sweep over Vanderbilt.
However, in Tennessee’s offensive success over the last four games, dating back to the 10-5 series finale win over the Commodores, power-hitting redshirt-freshman Kavares Tears has not seen the field.
Following the Vols win over Mississippi State on Friday, head coach Tony Vitello gave an update on Tears’ injury that has kept him out of action for the past week.
“He has been doing whatever he’s got to do rehab wise,” Vitello said. “It is kind of like a hamstring injury where you don’t want to go two steps forward and one step back. Better to be cautious and he is making progress. I think it will be fun to add him into the mix late in the year, but I don’t think it will be any time over the next two games that he would play for us.”
Tears has struggled with an oblique/hamstring injury now twice this season. The Lewisburg, Tennessee, native previously came up gimpy running to first base late in the series opener against Texas A&M and was held out for the next three games.
Tears made his return in a pinch-hit situation in the series opener at LSU and has since been a consistent option for Tennessee over the past month. The six-foot, 205-pounder started five games in an eight-game stretch dating from game two against Florida to game two against Vanderbilt.
However, it seems the hard-hitting lefty will be absent from the lineup at least until next Friday at Georgia.
Tears has been a tremendous left-handed bat for Tennessee this year and has shown the ability to deliver in crucial moments.
In Tennessee’s 4-3 series-opening win against Vanderbilt in extra innings, Tears led off the ninth inning with a home run to give the Vols life. Tears rounded out his effort in the series win over the Commodores with a three-RBI performance in game two thanks to a two-run single and an RBI hit-by-pitch.
On the season, Tears is batting .340, a mark that leads all Vols that have a minimum of 15 at-bats. Tears is 16-47 at the plate with six doubles, two home runs, 11 RBI and has a .596 slugging percentage.
The Vols have a chance to record their second consecutive SEC series sweep when the Big Orange battle Mississippi State in game three on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. ESPNU has the broadcast.