Despite a slow start on Wednesday afternoon, Tennessee (12-2) defeated in-state foe Austin Peay (9-7), 18-4. The Vols’ bats caught fire, scoring 13 combined runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
Austin Peay jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first on a three-run homer from senior first baseman Dre Gleason. In the top of the third, Gleason struck again with an RBI single up the middle to extend the Governors lead to 4-0.
The Governors wouldn’t score again. Tennessee, however, did just that — and more. The Vols went on to score 18 unanswered runs to turn a deficit into a blowout.
Vol senior Jeff Moberg put the Vols on the board in the bottom of the third inning with an RBI single to left field, scoring Pete Derkay.
Freshman outfielder Justin Ammons cut Austin Peay’s lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning with a bases loaded walk to score Dom Thornton.
The Vols struck gold in the bottom of the sixth, scoring six runs to take an 8-4 lead over the Governors. Derkay kicked things off with his first career home run before Jordan Rodgers knocked an RBI single with the bases loaded to score Moberg. On the same play, Max Bartlett was able to score on a throwing error from the Governors’ shortstop. Catcher Benito Santiago followed with a two-run triple to left center to make it a 7-4 ballgame. Andre Lipcius rounded out the six-run inning with an RBI single through the right side of the infield.
Tennessee followed up the sixth inning with a seven-run seventh inning to take a 15-4 lead. Ammons started the rally when he scored from third on a throwing error from the Govs’ second baseman. Brodie Leftridge then stepped to the plate, smashing a two-run homer over the left-field fence for his first homer of the season. With the bases loaded, Governors pitcher John Sparks plunked Derkay, allowing Ammons to score. Bartlett followed with an RBI single before Brandon Chinea hit a sacrifice fly to score Derkay and end the seven-run inning.
The Vols weren’t done. Derkay scored Luc Lipcius on a sac fly to get the scoring going in the bottom of the eighth inning. Bartlett then singled to center to extend Tennessee’s lead to 17-4, followed by an RBi single from Matt Waldren that scored Andre Lipcius.
Freshman Connor Darling received his first career start for Tennessee, and a pack of Vols’ pitchers appeared in relief. Will Heflin, Zach Linginfelter, Andrew Schultz, Kyle Serrano, Daniel Vasquez, Garrett Stallings, Jacob Westphal and Jon Lipinski all made appearances on the mound for the Vols.
Vasquez picked up the win after pitching a perfect sixth and seventh inning while striking out three.
Westphal made his first appearance since the 2015 season after missing all of last year due to Tommy John surgery.
Moberg finished the game 3-for-4 with an RBI, two runs scored, a walk and a stolen base. Rodgers followed Moberg’s impressive performance with a 3-for-5 game that included an RBI and three runs scored. Derkay finished with three RBIs and three runs scored. Santiago, Leftridge, Bartlett and Waldren all finished with two RBIs.
Tennessee enters SEC play on Friday night as No. 12 South Carolina (11-5) comes to Knoxville for a three-game series. First pitch on Friday night is set for 7 p.m. ET and can be viewed on the SEC Network.
The weekend games are both set for 2 p.m. ET with Saturday’s game being streamed on SEC Network+ and Sunday’s game being televised on ESPNU.
Edited by Nathan Odom
Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics