Photo via Tennessee Athletics
MESA, Ariz– Tennessee Baseball earned their first win of the season with a 7-0 shutout win over UC-San Diego in Mesa, Arizona, on Sunday.
Tennessee’s starting pitcher Drew Beam was phenomenal in his first start of 2023, retiring 17 of 20 batters faced and giving up only three hits and no runs.
The Vols’ bats weren’t on fire from start to finish, but a couple big hits from Blake Burke and a four-run seventh inning allowed Tennessee to win comfortably.
Burke recorded Tennessee’s first multi-base hit of the afternoon with a triple deep into center field in the bottom of the fourth inning. Burke’s triple was nearly a home run, as it hit the top of the center field wall and bounced back over the center fielder, giving Burke ample time to get to third. Burke was brought home shortly thereafter as Zane Denton ripped an RBI single into right field.
Griffin Merritt then took the plate for the second time of the afternoon and was hit in the face by a pitch. After trainers attended to Merritt’s bloody nose, the Cincinnati transfer stayed in the game.
Aggressive base-running from Denton led to UC-San Diego’s catcher committing a throwing error, allowing Denton and Merritt to advance to third and second, respectively.
The Vols then added their second run of the game with an RBI groundout from Kyle Booker to score Denton.
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On the mound, sophomore Drew Beam had an incredible start. Beam faced the minimum through three innings, and after giving up two hits in the fourth, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native retired the Tritons in order again in the fifth.
Beam pitched through the sixth inning, retiring the side around a one-out single to keep UC-San Diego scoreless through six.
Tennessee added their third run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to the bat of Blake Burke. Burke continued his big afternoon with a solo bomb over the left center wall, giving him his first home run of 2023.
JuCo transfer right-hander Bryce Jenkins, who took over for Beam in the top of the seventh, was the first of many bullpen arms to throw for Tennessee against the Tritons. Jenkins gave up a pair of hits but got out of the jam with a fielder’s choice to keep the Tritons scoreless.
The Vols’ bats caught fire in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Tennessee scored four runs in the frame to break the game open. Starting catcher Cal Stark opened the inning with a leadoff single, and pinch runner Ethan Payne then advanced to second on a wild pitch to give the Vols a runner in scoring position.
After Christian Scott worked a walk, starting shortstop Austen Jaslove roped an RBI single into right center to score Payne. Scott and Jaslove then stole third and second, respectively, and Jared Dickey laid down an RBI grounder to score Scott.
Tennessee added two more runs in the inning to extend their lead to 7-0 thanks to a wild pitch that scored Jaslove and a solo bomb from Christian Moore.
Moore’s home run marked his first of the season, the Vols second of the day and the team’s third of the weekend.
Junior left-handed pitchers Zander Sechrist and Jacob Bimbi loaded the bases with a ground rule double and a pair of walks in the eighth inning, and Tony Vitello went back to the bullpen to bring out Zach Joyce, twin brother of Ben Joyce.
Joyce was great in his Tennessee debut, delivering a pair of strikeouts to strand the bases loaded. While there was no gun in the ballpark, Joyce’s fastball looked to be easily in the mid-to-high 90s.
Sophomore right-hander Aaron Combs finished the game on the mound for Tennessee, retiring the side around a two-out walk.
The Vols leave Arizona 1-2 on the season but end the weekend on a high note. Second-ranked Tennessee will look to build off the win when they take on Alabama A&M on Tuesday and Wednesday in a pair of midweek contests.