Vols Take Series but Drop Sunday Finale vs. Fresno State

Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. —  No. 21 Tennessee extended its season-opening winning streak to 15 games before dropping the series finale to Fresno State on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Recaps of games two and three can be found below.

GAME 2 OF SERIES (Resumed after being suspended on Saturday): No. 21 Tennessee 13, Fresno State 9
After Saturday night’s game was game suspended with one out in the eighth inning due to the deterioration of the mound from heavy rain throughout the game, the Volunteers survived a furious comeback attempt by Fresno State to hold on for a 13-9 victory to take the series.

With the win, Tennessee improved to 15-0 to start the year and pulled themselves into a tie for the second-longest winning streak in program history. The 1951, 1994, 1997 and 2004 team all posted 15-game winning streaks as well.

The Vols led 11-0 heading into the eighth inning before allowing the Bulldogs to score nine runs on three hits and seven walks. UT used four pitchers in the inning with Garrett Crochet taking the mound when the game resumed on Sunday to finally stop the bleeding.

Crochet went on to strike out the side in the ninth to earn his third save of the season. All five batters the left hander retired came via strikeout.

The Big Orange opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. Freshman catcher Connor Pavolony tripled to right center to lead off the inning and scored on a double to left center by Ricky Martinez one batter later.

Evan Russell started a two-out rally in the third by drawing a walk to extend the inning and bring Alerick Soularie to the plate. After working the count full, the sophomore absolutely drilled the next pitch over the wall in right field for an opposite field home run to put UT ahead 3-0.

The Vols blew things wide open with a six spot in the bottom of the fourth. Martinez hit his second double of the night to lead off the inning and scored two batters later on an RBI single by Jake Rucker. UT went on to load the bases for Lipcius, who hit his second-grand slam of the year on a ball that just kept carrying over the wall in right field.  Two batters later, Soularie went deep again for his second four bagger of the night to make it 9-0.

The Big Orange added runs in the fifth and sixth to make it 11-0 before the Bulldogs started their valiant comeback attempt in the top of the eight.

After Crochet got the Vols out of the eighth, they added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth to account for the final score of 13-9.

Zach Linginfelter spun another gem to get the win and improve his record to 4-0 on the year. The junior right hander allowed just three hits and struck out four in six shutout innings.

GAME 3 OF SERIES: Fresno State 10, No. 21 Tennessee 7
Two big innings for Fresno State were the difference in Sunday’s series finale as the Bulldogs ended No. 21 Tennessee’s 15-game win streak with a 10-7 win at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Justin Ammons had another solid game at the plate with two hits, including a two-run homer that tied the game at four in the second inning. The Memphis native has been the Vols’ most consistent hitter so far this season, leading the team with a .400 batting average while reaching base in all 16 games.

Senior pitcher Will Neely struggled and was hit with his first loss of the season after allowing eight runs on nine hits in 3.1 innings of work.

The Big Orange dug themselves an early hole, falling behind 4-0 in the first inning. Back-to-back RBI doubles by Nolan Dempsey and JT Arruda made it 2-0 before a two-run homer by McCarthy Tatum extended the Bulldogs’ advantage to four.

UT came a few feet away from tying the game in the bottom of the first when Landon Gray hit a long fly ball with the bases loaded that was caught at the wall in right field for the final out of the inning. Struggles with the bases loaded was a theme for the Vols on Sunday, as they left them loaded three times in the contest.

The Vols exploded for five runs in the bottom of the second to take their only lead of the afternoon. A throwing error by Tatum on a bunt by Jake Ruckerallowed two runs to score before Ammons tied the game with a two-run homer into the left-field porches. An RBI bloop single by Evan Russell capped the scoring in the inning and put UT ahead, 5-4.

Following a scoreless third inning for both teams, the Bulldogs answered with a five-run inning of their own in the top of the fourth. Zach Ashford and Dempsey drove in runs with consecutive singles to chase Neely from the game. After a pitching change, Arruda hammered the first pitch he saw from freshman Chase Silseth for a three-run homer to put Fresno State up by four.

The Bulldogs added another run in the fifth but were held scoreless for the final four innings by the trio of Redmond WalshAndrew Schultz and Chase Wallace.

Ashford and Arruda did the majority of the damage for Fresno State, combining for seven hits, four runs and six RBI in the game to help the Bulldogs avoid the series sweep.

SUPER SOULARIE: Alerick Soularie continued his power surge for the Vols with two more home runs in Saturday night’s contest. The sophomore outfielder went deep twice in the Game Two win over the Bulldogs with a two-run shot in the third and solo homer in the fourth. Soularie is tied for the team lead with four long balls this season. He was 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBI in the Game Two win. Soularie led the team in batting average (.600), hits (six), runs (five), home runs (three), walks (five), slugging percentage (1.500) and on-base percentage (.733) while also driving in six runs in the series win over Fresno State.

AMMO EXTENDS ON-BASE STREAK: Justin Ammons continued to be a staple on the base paths for the Volunteers this season. The junior leadoff man extended his on-base streak to 16 games this weekend after registering four hits and four walks for the series. Ammons leads the team with a .400 batting average and 20 hits through 16 games this season.

ANOTHER GRAND SLAM FOR ANDRE: Andre Lipcius has been deadly with the bases loaded this season and came through again in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game. The junior slugger hit his second grand slam of the season and the third of his career to put the Vols ahead 8-0. He is the first Tennessee player to hit two grand slams in the same season since Blake Forsythe did it in 2010. Lipcius hit his first grand slam of the year in a 7-1 win over Liberty on Feb. 26. The Williamsburg Va., native added another home run in the series finale to increase his season total to four.

LINGO KEEPS DEALING: On a weekend where UT’s pitching had some struggles, starter Zach Linginfelter put forth another masterful performance on Saturday night, allowing just three hits while striking out four in six shutout innings. The junior from just up the road in Sevierville is now 4-0 on the year with a team-leading 0.75 ERA.


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