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Pitching Plan Revealed for Tennessee Baseball’s Series Against Bowling Green

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball has revealed its pitching plans for the upcoming weekend series against Bowling Green in Knoxville.

Jacksonville State transfer RHP AJ Causey will get the start in the series opener against the Falcons instead of sophomore RHP AJ Russell, who is dealing with some soreness.

Junior RHP Drew Beam will start Saturday’s game, and the starter for the series finale on Sunday is still to be determined.

Russell’s absence from the starting rotation should not come as a surprise. He exited last Friday’s game after just three innings as he was dealing with some soreness in the side/armpit area, and Tony Vitello and the rest of the coaching staff wanted to take a cautious approach.

“Friday is going to be who can get outs for us,” Vitello said on Tuesday regarding his possible pitching plans for the weekend. “I don’t exactly know when [AJ] Causey will get them, but he’s kind of been a Friday combo guy with AJ [Russell]. So, he’ll pitch in some capacity, and we will need him to get out here. It will be fun for him because the game ended against [Texas Tech] and the other game his outing ended really before he hit a pitch count limit. So, will entrust the ball with him in some form or fashion for a good amount of time.”

That amount of time is now a start for Causey, his first in a Tennessee uniform. In two appearances so far this season, the junior has a 1-0 record, 1.17 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, one save, and has given up only five hits, three runs (one earned), and one walk to nine strikeouts in 7.2 innings.

Vitello has said multiple times that Causey is someone who can and is deserving of a start. Now, the Harvest, Alabama, will get the ball to begin Tennessee’s second series of the season.

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Beam has been the Saturday guy all season, so there’s no changes there, but the Sunday starter continues to be unknown for the Vols. Senior LHP Zander Sechrist has started both Sundays so far this season, but Vitello said on Tuesday that he may not make a decision for Sunday until the morning of the game.

“I think Sunday will literally be a wait – maybe even Sunday morning – to see how guys feel,” Vitello said.

In addition to the starters, Vitello will continue to lean on top bullpen arms Nate Snead, Aaron Combs and others throughout the weekend.

“There’s going to be some other guys that need to be hungry to get out here and just get outs for us – whenever they are and however they can get them,” Vitello said after Tennessee’s win over High Point. “[Aaron] Combs was hot and that was [Nate] Snead’s last hitter, so I’m sure that feeling of being hot and wanting to go into the game will carry over to Friday for Combsy… By Saturday, guys like Kirby [Connell] will [also] be ready to come back or some other guys will be fresh.”

First pitch for the series opener between Tennessee and Bowling Green is at 4:30 p.m. ET in Knoxville. Game two will begin at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, and the series finale will start at 1 p.m. ET.

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