Photo via Tennessee Baseball on Twitter.
Tennessee baseball opens up SEC play this weekend with a three-game set against Missouri.
The Tigers earned a handful of impressive wins in the pre-conference slate including Texas and TCU as Missouri is in a critical season for coach Steve Bieser.
The Vols rank second nationally in both the D1Baseball and USA Today Coaches Poll entering the weekend but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing to this point in the season. Tennessee dropped its first two games of the season and a midweek bout with Boston College.
Here’s everything to know as Tony Vitello returns to his alma mater for the third time as Tennessee’s head coach.
Game Times — No. 2 Tennessee (15-3, 0-0 SEC) at Missouri (13-3, 0-0 SEC)
Location: Taylor Stadium
Game One (Friday): 4 p.m. ET
Game Two (Saturday): 3 p.m. ET
Game Three (Sunday): 2 p.m. ET
How To Watch
All three games will be streamed on SEC Network+.
Game One Stream
Game Two Stream
Game Three Stream
Projected Pitching Matchups
Game One — RHP Chase Dollander (3-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 41K, 15BB, 22 IP) vs. RHP Chandler Murphy (2-1, 3.48 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 21K, 7BB, 20.2 ip)
Game Two — RHP Chase Burns (2-0, 1.88 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 39K, 6BB, 24 IP) vs. RHP Rorik Maltrud (1-0, 3.07 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 22K, 2BB, 14.2 IP)
Game Three — RHP Drew Beam (3-0, 2.57 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 22K, 5BB, 21 IP) vs. TBD
Bats To Know
Blake Burke — .400 BA, .459 OBP 1.367 OPS, 8 HR, 13 XBH, 24 RBI
Jared Dickey — .319 BA, .392 OBP, 1.001 OPS, 5 HR, 9 XBH, 18 RBI
Christian Moore — .327 BA, .513 OBP, 1.113 OPS, 4 HR, 7 XBH, 14 RBI
Griffin Merritt — .333 BA, .424 OBP, 1.146 OPS, 6 HR, 9 XBH, 17 RBI
Hank Zeisler — .319 BA, .500 OBP, 1.351 OPS, 8 HR, 9 XBH, 23 RBI
Dalton Bargo — .382 BA, .488 OBP, 1.135 OPS, 1 HR, 5 XBH, 9 RBI
Luke Mann — .371 BA, .480 OBP, 1.174 OPS, 5 HR, 9 XBH, 14 RBI
Trevor Austin — .358 BA, .486 OBP, 1.128 OPS, 3 HR, 8 XBH, 14 RBI
Last Three Weeks
Swept three games against Dayton
Swept two midweek games against Charleston Southern
Swept three games against Gonzaga
Lost midweek game against Boston College
Swept three games against Morehead State
Won midweek game against Lipscomb
Swept three games against FIU
Won midweek game against Lindenwood
Swept three games against Texas Southern
Won midweek game against Western Illinois
Won two of three games against NJIT
Won midweek game against Lamar
It’s early but this Missouri team seems far better than those in recent years. The Tigers were solid in the pre-conference slate and earned some impressive wins. Missouri may find itself at the bottom of the conference again but they won’t be the easy victory they’ve been in recent years.
A mid March trip to Columbia isn’t fun given the expected cold temperatures which moved the start time up Friday. That will make offense a premium and mean Tennessee needs to run the bases well.
The Vols pitching leads to an SEC opening series win.
Tennessee wins two out of three