Photo via Tennessee Athletics
Tennessee ended its pre-conference slate with a decisive 10-0 victory over instate foe Lipscomb Tuesday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Vols’ pitching staff combined for a shutout while Maui Ahuna and Christian Moore sparked the offensive production from the top.
Here’s everything to know about Tennessee’s midweek victory.
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A Two-Out Rally Sparks The Offense
It looked like it was going to be a quiet bottom half of the second inning. Lipscomb’s Chandler Giles retired the first two Tennessee batters of the inning before freshman Dylan Dreiling worked a walk. Hunter Ensley followed it up with his first career homer to give the Vols an early 2-0 lead.
That’s just where the offensive outburst started. Kavares Tears doubled and Cal Stark walked and Lipscomb went to its bullpen. Maui Ahuna promptly homered to left field for his fourth long ball in his 10 game season.
Tennessee wouldn’t score anymore in the second inning but did continue to threat. Against a strong Lipscomb offense, the two-out outburst gave the Vols an early lead and some breathing room for a Jonny Wholestaff pitching day.
After the big two-out rally, Lipscomb never threatened Tennessee again.
A Look At Tennessee’s Pitching
It was a classic midweek pitching performance from Tennessee as the Vols used xx pitchers to record 27 outs. As per usual, Zander Sechrist got the start and threw the game’s first two innings. Sechrist worked around traffic in the first inning, stranding two runners on after consecutive singles to open the game.
Sechrist worked his way through the second inning with ease to allow three hits while striking out three in two innings pitched.
Zach Joyce replaced Sechrist in the third inning and had a rocky outing while still keeping Lipscomb off the scoreboard. A one-out double and two-out walk gave the Bisons baserunners but Joyce exited the inning unharmed with a strikeout.
Joyce wouldn’t make his way through the fourth inning after allowing a single and walk and exiting the game with one-out. Sophomore Aaron Combs relieved Joyce and recorded out number two before walking the bases loaded and exiting the inning with a four-pitch strikeout.
Combs pitched a clean sixth inning and exited the game having allowed just one baserunner and striking out three batters in 1.2 innings pitched.
The back half of Tennessee’s bullpen kept things with much less drama. Jacob Bimbi retired the side in order in the sixth while Jake Fitzgibbons and AJ Russell each retired the side around a lone walk. The freshman Russell looked particularly impressive, earning three strikeouts.
RHP Hollis Fanning closed out the evening with a 1-2-3 ninth inning including a strikeout to end the game.
Top Of The Order Sets The Tone
It was a strong day at the plate for nearly every Tennessee batter, but the two guys at the top of the batting order were the most effective.
Maui Ahuna continued his recent tear hitting the big three-run home run in the second inning on his way to a two-of-four night with four RBIs and a walk. Ahuna is on a tear over the last week, hitting seven-of-17 (.412) with four home runs and 12 RBIs in the last five games.
Christian Moore didn’t have the flash of a multi-RBI game but was effective again at the plate going two-of-four. Moore has been fantastic for Tennessee in the pre-conference slate and that continued against the Bisons.
Entering SEC play, Moore has been Tennessee’s second best hitter and is one of the consistent bats the Vols know they can rely on.
Tennessee opens SEC play this weekend when they travel to Columbia to take on Missouri in a three-game series. First pitch for the series opener is at 7 p.m. ET Friday night.