Vol baseball returns to action today against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Tennessee..."/> Vol baseball returns to action today against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Tennessee..."/>

UT Baseball: Western Kentucky @ Tennessee Preview


Vol baseball returns to action today against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Tennessee looks to carry momentum from their weekend sweep of NIU.

Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers. I was a Hilltopper, at Science Hill, but it is always nice to see a fellow Hilltopper. Our mascot was a guy in a top hat and a cane, their mascot is a red blob thing, so I am still not sure exactly what a Hilltopper is.

Anyway, they come into Knoxville today at 3 p.m.


The Vols are looking to continue their winning ways at home. After sweeping the Huskies of Northern Illinois rather easily, they Vols are looking to continue frequenting the scoreboard. They are averaging 8 runs a game, while only allowing 2.6.

Drew Steckenrider has proven himself worthy as both a pitcher and a hitter. Steckenrider earned SEC Player of the Week honors after pitching a great 4 innings to earn the win on the 17th and after going 5-8 with 5 runs scored, 2 RBIs, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 1 stolen base, 4 walks and 2 HBP in the Vols’ opening series.

Chris Pierce and Chris Fritts lead the team in RBIs, each with 7. Also of note, the Vols have stolen 7 bases in 10 attempts. Showing that the Serrano era is not afraid to gamble on the base paths.


Western Kentucky comes into Knoxville after dropping 2 of their 3 home games to Toledo. The Hilltoppers, whose uniforms resemble those of the Washington Nationals, lost their opener 5-2. They then saw a ninth inning rally fall short as they dropped game 1 of a Saturday double-header 7-6. However, they dominated game 2, winning 9-3.

Scott Wilcox and Ivan Hartle will be the two offensive weapons to watch. Both are hitting .500 (with Wilcox at .556) and both get on base, a lot. However, the rest of the team has had trouble consistently knocking them in. The other problem they have is keeping the opponent from scoring runs against them.

What to watch for:

The Hilltoppers have allowed 10 stolen bases in 10 attempts. Is this a pitcher problem, a catcher issue, or a mixture of both? Either way, I see Tennessee trying to take advantage of what looks to be an early weakness in the Hilltoppers.

Another thing to watch is how the Hilltoppers handle late inning pressure. The bullpen has let down their starting pitching so far this year. It was a 2-2 game in the 9th, before the Hilltoppers gave up 3 in their opening game. And then again in game 2, the bullpen gave up 4 runs after the 7th inning. So, if they do get a lead, can they hold on to it.


I think that Tennessee wins at home again. They are clicking offensively and even if it is close late, I think there are too many psyche issues for the Hilltopper pen right now. However, if I were to guess, I don’t think that it will be terribly close.

Look for the Vols to carry momentum into their 3-game series against Seton Hall.

Also, there is no snow or rain in the forecast. So grab a jacket and come watch this Vols team as they continue their 2012 season at 3 p.m.!

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