KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 21 Tennessee improved to 14-0 on the year with an 8-3 win over Fresno State in Friday’s series opener on a cold and rainy night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Vols scored all eight of their runs in the first two innings, plating four in each frame. Neither team scored after the second inning.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first, racking up four hits in the inning. The first three Fresno State batters all recorded hits with JT Arruda driving in the game’s first run with a single to right field. McCarthy Tatum and Zach Presno also drove in runs for the Bulldogs in the inning.
UT didn’t let the rough start faze them as the Vols answered back immediately with four runs of their own in the bottom of the first to take a 4-3 lead.
Justin Ammons led the inning off with a single before Jay Charleston reached on an error to put two on for Andre Lipcius. The junior from Virginia laced a 1-0 pitch to the gap in left center for a double that scored both Ammons and Charleston. Two batters later, Alerick Soularie homered to the opposite field to put the Vols ahead 4-3. It was the sophomore’s second home run this season.
Three RBI singles by Lipcius, Soularie and Ricky Martinez helped the Big Orange build their lead to five in the second. The trio drove in all eight runs and combined for six of Tennessee’s nine hits on the night.
After getting roughed up in the first inning, junior pitcher Garrett Stallings rebounded nicely to hold the Bulldogs scoreless over the next five innings before the bullpen took over. Stallings earned the win to improve to 4-0 on the year despite allowing a season-high three runs and 11 hits. He also struck out eight.
Fresno State starter Ryan Jensen lasted just two innings after giving up eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits to fall to 2-1 on the season. Zach Ashford, Presno and EJ Andrews Jr., all finished with two hits on the night for the Bulldogs, who left 10 runners on base.
The Vols’ bullpen was lights out once again, allowing just one hit while striking out four batters in three shutout innings.
EARLY RUNS THE DIFFERENCE: After falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first, the Vols immediately responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning to take a lead they would never relinquish. The four runs were the most Tennessee has scored in the first inning of a game this season. UT followed that up with four more runs in the second to take a five-run lead.
SOULARIE MAKING HIS PRESENCE FELT: Sophomore junior college transfer Alerick Soularie has provided the Vols’ lineup with some pop early on this season. The Houston, Texas native hit his second home run of the season in the first inning on Friday, a two-run shot into UT’s bullpen in right field to put Tennessee ahead 4-3. On the year, Soularie is batting .346 with eight runs and 10 RBI in just seven starts.
UP NEXT: The Vols and Bulldogs square off again tomorrow night as UT goes for the series victory. First pitch set is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be streamed live online via SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app.