KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The offense stole the show on Tuesday night as No. 23 Tennessee defeated in-state foe Tennessee Tech, 15-10, in a slugfest at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Nine different UT players had hits and six players drove in runs on the night, led by three RBI apiece from Jay Charleston, Alerick Soularie and Connor Pavolony. The Vols also stole a season-high 13 bases, one shy of the single-game program record set against Carson-Newman on April 11, 1990.
Charleston had five of those steals and had an incredible all-around performance, finishing with three hits and three runs scored while also tying a career high with three runs batted in.
Pavolony also had a big night, setting new career highs with three hits and three RBI while reaching base in all four of his plate appearances. Jake Rucker was yet another Volunteer to set a personal best, tying a career high with three hits while also hitting his first-ever triple. The freshman from Greenbrier, Tenn., finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI while coming up a home run short of the cycle.
The Golden Eagles opened the game with a home run to take an early 1-0 lead. Anthony Carrera skied a 1-1 pitch that just continued to carry over the wall in left field, barely staying fair. The TTU left fielder doubled his team’s lead with another solo homer in the third to make it 2-0.
Those were the only two runs surrendered by Tennessee starting pitcher Camden Sewell, who struck out three batters in three solid innings. Andre Schultz picked up his third win of the season after pitching a scoreless inning in the fifth.
The Big Orange tied the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Pavolony continued his hot hitting with an RBI double to cut the lead in half before Soularie evened the game at two with a two-out single to score Charleston and extend his hit streak to 13 games.
Tennessee Tech quickly regained its lead with another home run in the top of the fourth. After a single and a walk, JD Funk hit his sixth homer of the year to put the Eagles ahead 5-2.
The Vols got a run back in the bottom of the fourth to cut their deficit to two and exploded for six runs in the fifth to take a 9-5 lead. Soularie doubled down the left-field line to tie the game at five and the flood gates opened from there. Rucker, Zach Daniels and Pavolony all went on to drive in runs in the inning to give UT its first lead of the game.
After the Golden Eagles scored a run in the sixth to trim their deficit to three, UT answered with a four-spot in the seventh to run its lead to seven. Charleston doubled to bring in two runs before Andre Lipcius hit his 15th home run of the season later in the inning to make it 13-6.
Tennessee Tech punched back with four runs of their own in the top of the eighth to make it a three-run game again. All four runs in the inning were unearned after an error extended the inning. Redmond Walsh entered the game with two outs and the tying run at the plate before striking out Gavin Johns to end the inning.
The Big Orange added a couple more insurance runs in the eighth on an error and an RBI double by Charleston to make it 15-10. TTU made things interesting in the ninth, loading the bases on a single and two walks, but Walsh struck out Kevin Strohschein to get out of the jam and earn his ninth save of the year.
THEFTY TUESDAY: Tennessee was stealing bases all over the place on Tuesday night, racking up 13 in the game, one away from tying the school record set back in 1990. Jay Charleston stole five bases on the night, which was also one short of the program single-game record of six set by Clay Greene versus Middle Tennessee in 1997. Charleston also moved into fifth place on the Vols’ all-time steals list with 62, passing Will Maddox (60). The Longwood, Fla., native is just two steals away from cracking the top 10 in single-season steals at UT and 15 away from tying Clay Greene (87) for fourth on the Vols’ career list.
THE BATS ARE HOT: Tennessee’s bats have been red hot over the past month. The Vols have scored five or more runs in 11 of their last 15 games while scoring eight-plus runs nine times in that span. They have also recorded double-digit hits in seven times in their last 15 games.
NON-CONFERENCE & MIDWEEK MASTERS: With Tuesday’s win, the Vols finished the 2019 season with an impressive 13-1 record in midweek games, outscoring their opponents by a 112-36 margin. UT also finishes the year with 24-2 record in non-conference play. The 24 non-conference regular-season wins are the most since the program posted 30 in 2000.
UP NEXT: The Vols close out the regular season with another important SEC series against No. 15 Ole Miss that will begin on Thursday. First pitch for game one is set for 7 p.m. on the SEC Network. Fans can also listen live as John Wilkerson and Vince Ferrara call the action for the Vol Radio Network (FM 99.1/AM 990).