The Tennessee baseball team warming up in the fall. Photo by RTI/Ric Butler.
Tennessee baseball opens its 2023 season at the Desert Invitational Friday night against Arizona. It’s the first of three games for the Vols in the event as they’ll face Grand Canyon on Saturday and UC-San Diego on Sunday.
The Vols released their projected starting lineup for the season opener and the projected pitching matchups for the event Thursday morning. Let’s dive into the projections.
The projected starting pitchers are no surprise for Tennessee. RHP Chase Dollander (10-0, 2.39 ERA in 22) will start on Friday, facing off against RHP TJ Nichols (6-4, 5.50 ERA).
RHP Chase Burns (8-2, 2.91 ERA) will face off against Grand Canyon and LHP Connor Markl (6-3, 5.43 ERA). RHP Drew Beam (8-1, 2.72 ERA) will close down the weekend against UC-San Diego and RHP Michael Mitchell (4-1, 3.00 ERA in 21).
More From RTI: Tennessee Baseball 2023 Pitching Preview
There’s no real surprises in Tennessee’s position starters, especially in the infield with Blake Burke, Christian Moore, Maui Ahuna and Zane Denton.
Tony Vitello said that both Charlier Taylor and Cal Stark will start games behind the plate in the season’s opening weekend. With Taylor as the projected starter, expect the junior to catch on Friday and Sunday with Stark earning the start against Grand Canyon on Saturday.
In the outfield, Kyle Booker will start in left field, Jared Dickey will start in center field and Christian Scott will start in right field. However, Vitello said the Vols will use multiple starting lineups in the outfield over the weekend.
The sixth-year head coach also said Tennessee’s designated hitter will likely be an outfielder all season.
“I think the majority of where this lineup experimentation will take place, is with the DH and the outfield spot,” Vitello said. “It’s going to be one in the same. Our DH is almost always going to be – sizing up our personnel – almost always going to be an outfielder. Don’t hold this to me too much, but I bet we will have three different outfields in three days out there in Arizona.”
Cincinnati transfer Griffin Merritt is suspended by the NCAA for the first two games of the season after earning an ejection in the Bearcats season ending loss last year. The reigning AAC Player of the Year has impressed in fall and preseason practice and will find himself in the starting lineup Sunday.
Tennessee opens its 2023 season at 8 p.m. ET Friday night against Arizona.