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Four Quick Takes on a disheartening loss to the Golden Eagles

4 min read
Four Quick Takes on a disheartening loss to the Golden Eagles

Tennessee came up short to Tennessee Tech on a Tuesday night, 12-5 the final score. The Vols fell into an early 5-0 hole before battling back to cut the deficit to two runs before ultimately losing by seven. It’s the fourth-straight loss for the Tennessee and the second midweek loss of the season.

Zander Sechrist (0-1) takes home the loss for the home team, allowing three-straight singles to begin the ballgame that resulted in a run. Brock Smith (1-1) picks up the win after tossing 5.0 innings in relief, allowing three runs off five hits.

It’s the second year in-a-row Tennessee has dropped a midweek game to the Golden Eagles as the 2022 version snapped the Vols’ 23-game win-streak. Tennessee, who scored five runs off eight hits, will await Vanderbilt for a three-game series this weekend. Tennessee Tech finished the night pounding out 12 runs on 17 hits.

AJ Russell comes to the rescue

Tennessee starter Zander Sechrist gave up three-straight singles, loading the bases, to begin the ballgame. AJ Russell was then summoned out of the Volunteer bullpen and did really great work to escape the frame with just one run surrendered.

The righty, who has been the first out of the Tennessee bullpen each of the past two midweek ballgames, struck out his first batter (John Dyer) before walking Will Long on a 3-1 pitch. Theo Ford struck out to follow and then Russell got out of the inning, taking advantage of the wind blowing straight in, as Theo Bryant flew out to deep left field.

Russell went on to throw the second as well, working a quick 1-2-3 frame. In total, the freshman struck out three, walked one (that run charged to Sechrist), allowed no hits on 26 pitches (17 strikes).

A disastrous third inning on the mound

Bryce Jenkins came on to replace AJ Russell after two solid innings on the bump, but things went south in a hurry for the Knoxville product. Hayden Gilliland kicked things off with a single through the right side and advanced to second base on a passed ball. John Dyer and Will Long walked to load the bases with one away before Preston Ford drove in two on a ball that one-hopped the wall in left-centerfield. Theo Bryant and Eddie Garza followed with consecutive run-scoring singles to quickly make the ballgame 5-0 in favor of the visitors.    

Aaron Combs came on to relieve Jenkins before the latter two RBI singles, but recovered well to strike out both Nicho Jordan and Troy Baunsgard looking to stop the bleeding. The Golden Eagles plated four in the frame off four hits to take the commanding midweek lead. Tennessee Tech ballooned its lead in the ninth with five more runs.

The Hunter Ensley Show

Tennessee looked dead in the water the first two innings. Uninspired at-bats and quickly in a 5-0 hole before coming to the plate in the third. Then the Vols got something going to begin the bottom of the frame. A walk from Christian Scott and Logan Chambers single put two on for Hunter Ensley. The outfielder went yard on an 0-1 pitch, sending a no-doubter over the wall and putting Tennessee on the board. The ball travelled 391 feet and registered 103 miles per hour off the bat.

In the fourth, the Vols sparked a little two out rally that Ensley once again cashed in on. Scott singled to right and Chambers walked behind him. Ensley then torched a ball to left, driving in Scott in the process. The Vols were down just a run at that point in the ballgame at 5-4. Ensley finished the ballgame going 2-for-5 with the four RBI and one run scored. He accounted for four of the five runs on the night.

Something about the Golden Eagles

What is it about the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles? Sure, the Vols were 7-3 against them in their last 10 meetings, but Tennessee Tech has won two-straight against Tennessee the past two seasons. Both losses hurt in different ways.

Last season, UT’s 23-game win-streak was snapped at Smokies Stadium against this same team just 90 minutes to the west. It was a wooden bat classic type deal at Smokies Stadium. Tennessee was one of the best teams in the country and the loss didn’t hurt them in any way. Plus, it was a midweek, and we know how special these types of games can be.

Fast forward to tonight and it’s a different story. Yes, it’s a midweek and the Vols were getting plenty of arms work out of the bullpen and had a couple of starters inserted into the lineup that usually don’t see the field on weekends. But this team is struggling in the worst way and needed a win to build some confidence in themselves heading into a must-win against Vanderbilt this weekend. To make matters worse, this is not a good Tennessee Tech baseball team.

The Vols have issues, and no one is feeling sorry for them right now. This weekend is huge and it’s time to get to work if you’re wearing that orange.

A couple of odds and ends. This is the first time under Tony Vitello and the first time since 2016 the Vols have dropped four-straight games. Tennessee was outscoring opponents 89-13 in midweek contests thus far this season. In one game, Tennessee Tech nearly doubles that runs surrendered total. Tennessee falls to 60-10 in midweek games under Tony Vitello.

The post Four Quick Takes on a disheartening loss to the Golden Eagles appeared first on On3.

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