Friday saw Tennessee baseball score an SEC play season-high 17 runs. Sunday saw Ben Joyce throw the fastest pitch ever recorded in college baseball history at 105.5 MPH. The Vols, ranked No. 1 across the board, won both days, 17-4 and 5-3, to take two of three from the Auburn Tigers, ranked anywhere from No. 17 to No. 21 depending on the service you use.
Rocky Top scored 15 runs combined in the seventh and eighth innings Friday to pull out the win in Knoxville, Tenn., at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Jordan Beck hit a two-run homer in the eighth to secure the win Sunday. The one loss for Tony Vitello’s team came Saturday, as they went into the ninth up 5-4 before allowing four runs.
UT improves to 40-4 overall and 19-2 in the SEC with a midweek home game against the Alabama A&M Bulldogs Tuesday before visiting the Kentucky Wildcats next Thursday through Saturday. Auburn falls to 31-14 and 12-9 in the SEC with a visit from the Arkansas Razorbacks set for next weekend. Here are three things we learned from Tennessee baseball’s series win.
1. Every game was decided late.
In every single game this past weekend, the team that won was either trailing or tied heading into the seventh inning. We mentioned the Vols were up 5-4 before allowing four runs in the top of the ninth. They scored one run to lose that game 8-5, and a rally actually seemed possible.
However, on Friday, the Vols entered the seventh inning trailing 4-2. That’s when they scored seven runs, and then they scored eight in the eighth to secure the blowout victory. Beck’s home run Sunday broke a 3-3 tie. This made for a thrilling series despite what appeared to be a blowout victory on Friday.
2. The home runs continue to fly.
To nobody’s surprise, this remains a story for Tennessee baseball. The Vols hit nine home runs over the weekend, driving in 18 of their 28 runs off the long ball. In addition to Beck’s home run Sunday, Trey Lipscomb had a two-run shot in the first. Lipscomb also had a homer on Friday. There were six homers on Friday, to be exact.
Jorel Ortega and Evan Russell each had two, including a grand slam by Ortega that gave the Vols the lead for good. Blake Burke also hit one. Cortland Lawson had one in the ninth on Saturday. In addition to homers, there were six doubles over the weekend. Beck had two, and Russell, Lawson, Seth Stephenson and Luc Lipcius all had one.
3. Power pitching won the weekend; control pitching struggled.
Of the 15 runs the Vols gave up this past weekend, Will Mabrey was the only power pitcher who struggled. He just had a bad inning, allowing three runs on Friday. However, Camden Sewell, Redmond Walsh and Drew Beam combined to allow 10 runs, and they are the three rotational pitchers who average the fewest strikeouts per innings pitched.
Meanwhile, Chase Burns allowed one run and had nine strikeouts in five innings Friday. Mark McLaughlin and Kirby Connell closed that day out, allowing no runs in the final three innings combined. Blade Tidwell allowed one run and struck out three in just under three innings Saturday, which wasn’t bad.
Joyce’s power pitching Sunday was the story for Tennessee baseball, though. He closed out the game Sunday, pitching the final four innings, and in addition to his 105.5 MPH fastball, he struck out six, allowing just one hit and no runs. It was a masterpiece and exemplified the power pitching of the weekend.