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Situational Hitting Eludes Tennessee In Series Finale Loss Against Kentucky

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Kentucky salvaged the weekend series at Tennessee Sunday afternoon as the Wildcats took the series finale 10-0 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Vols stranded 16 runners on-base while Kentucky hit five home runs in a game delayed a 1-hour, 55-minutes due to lightning.

Here’s everything to know about the series finale.

Another Short Drew Beam Outing

After turning in strong performances in every home start this season, sophomore Drew Beam struggled in his final home start of the season. Entering last week’s start at Georgia, Beam had allowed just four home runs all season.

Beam surrendered four home runs last week and two more in just 1.2 innings against Kentucky Sunday afternoon. Kentucky made an abundance of hard contact off Beam, totaling six hits three extra-base hits and four runs against the right hander.

After giving Beam the benefit of the doubt and extending him last week, Tony Vitello had a quick hook for the sophomore this week. After Beam surrendered a two-out walk in the second, Vitello went to freshman reliever AJ Russell.

An hour and 55 minute rain delay an inning later would have ended Beam’s day then so the short outing wasn’t nearly as costly as it could have been otherwise.

However, Beam turning in consecutive poor starts is at least slightly worrisome, especially given the way he struggled to finish his freshman season.

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Clutch Hitting Eludes Tennessee

Tennessee had no issues getting baserunners in its series finale against Kentucky. The Vols had baserunners in all nine innings and had multiple baserunners in six of the first eight innings.

But getting runners home after they got on base was where the trouble started for Tennessee. The Vols left 12 runners on base through the first six innings and 16 runners on base in total as they failed to muster enough offense to make a comeback bid.

Tennessee hit three-of-18 with runners on-base and zero-of-11 with runners in-scoring position. The biggest missed opportunity came in the fourth inning when the Vols loaded the bases with two-outs for Hunter Ensley. Ensley had a double and a single in his first two at-bats but quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 before Darren Williams froze him with a fastball on the outside edge of the plate.

Kentucky became the first team to shutout Tennessee this season. It was the Vols’ first shutout since falling to Virginia 6-0 in their first game in the 2021 College World Series and the first time they’ve been shoutout in SEC play since their series opening loss to Vanderbilt in 2021.

Long Ball Propels Kentucky’s Offense

Kentucky entered the day with less home runs than any other team in the SEC. The Wildcats proceeded to hit five home runs— the most Tennessee has surrendered all season.

We already discussed Beam’s struggles to keep the ball in the park for the second consecutive week but it continued against Tennessee’s bullpen.

Seth Halvorsen was mostly productive in 4.1 innings of action, keeping the Vols in the game until the eighth inning. But the right-handed reliever allowed a solo home run in the fifth inning and then a two-run home run in the eighth inning that broke the game open.

RHP Aaron Combs relieved Halvorsen following the home run and immediately gave up a home run on the second pitch he threw.

In total, Kentucky scored seven of its 10 runs on home runs.

Final Stats

Up Next

Tennessee concludes its regular season home games Tuesday night when they welcome Belmont to Lindsey Nelson Stadium. First pitch on Senior Night is at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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