Andrew Lindsey tossed arguably the best start in a Tennessee uniform this year and the Vols didn’t let it go to waste, coming back in extras to take down Vanderbilt, 4-3 in 12 innings. Griffin Merritt had the walkoff home run for the win.
Zane Denton’s solo home run in the second was the lone run the Vols (24-14, 6-10) accounted for on the night until Kavares Tears and Dylan Drieling’s solo shots tied things up in the bottom of the ninth. Vanderbilt (29-9, 13-3) scraped across three runs on eight hits while the Vols tallied four runs off six hits.
Chase Burns picked up the win after picking up nine outs in the final three innings with seven strikeouts. Nick Maldonado is charged for the loss after giving up the game-winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning. Game two of the series will begin Saturday afternoon at noon eastern time and will be televised on ESPN 2.
But first, what were the six biggest takes from this one?
Are you kidding me?
What an absolutely incredible win for Tennessee baseball – a victory you can hopefully look back on at the end of the season to acknowledge a turning point. What Tennessee does from here is up to the guys in that dugout, but you need to win this series and the Vols wouldn’t take no for an answer on Friday night. Battling back, putting barrel on the ball, playing good defense, pitching elite-like on the mound – this game had it all. On yeah, and it had a passion for the longball late to keep this game going.
Leading off the bottom of the ninth inning down two runs, Tennessee designated-hitter Kavares Tears went yard to straightaway center. Two batters later and with two outs and two strikes on the scoreboard, freshman pinch hitter Dylan Drieling homered over the right-centerfield wall. Of note, Drieling is now 7-for-10 as a pinch-hitter this season with a double, triple, home run and two walks. Merritt would win it on a long ball in the bottom of the 12th.
Incredible night that felt like things were finally going Tennessee’s way. Felt like 2022 and 2021 to be honest. What happens from here? We don’t know but the series is there for the taking tomorrow at noon and it could spark something.
What an effort by Andrew Lindsey, what stones by Chase Burns
Friday night had arguably the best start from a Tennessee pitcher all season long – all things considered. The Vols needed to get off to a good start on the mound and it absolutely did. Andrew Lindsey pitched quick and efficiently all night long and called it a game with two outs in the seventh inning at 77 pitches. The righty allowed three runs off six hits but struck out a career-high 10 batters with just two walks. There was about 30 scouts here for the ballgame, so Andrew Lindsey really helped himself out tonight on the mound in his first start at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the top of the 10th inning, Chase Burns was summoned out of the bullpen with a leadoff man aboard. The former starter, who is getting a stint in the bullpen of late, registered triple digits on a couple of occasions – showing emotion walking off the field after big strikeouts. In all, Burns picked up the win tossing the final three inning of the ballgame – notching strikeouts on seven of the nine outs he collected.
Back and forth early on
Tennessee jumped on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning on the eighth home run of the season for Zane Denton. The blast traveled 408 feet and was 106 mph off the bat. It was the seventh home run of the conference slate for the Volunteer third baseman as those seven bombs accounted for nine of his hits in conference play at the time. Following the long ball, Denton was 9-for-50 in Southeastern Conference play at the plate, but he put Tennessee up early in a critical game one of the series.
The lead was short lived early on as Vanderbilt registered back-to-back singles to lead off the top of the third. Matthew Polk singled through the left side and the ninth hitter Jonathan Vastine followed with a base hit to left-centerfield and Polk went form first to third on the play. Andrew Lindsey rebounded well, striking out both Enrique Bradfield Jr. and Davis Diaz as the lineup card flipped over, but surrendered a two-run single to right field from RJ Schreck that put the visitors out in front.
Bottom of the order giving Tennessee pitcher’s issues
Vanderbilt produced early runs in both the third and fifth innings on Friday night. Matthew Polk and Jonathan Vastine from the bottom of the Commodore order was the park in both frames. The former singled and then doubled down the left field line to lead off both innings while the latter came behind him with a single and a bunt single to put two runners on. RJ Schreck’s two-run single drove in both runners in the third and Enrique Bradfield Jr.’s RBI groundout accounted for the runs cored in the fifth. It’s worth noting Andrew Lindsay did strand four combined to escape further damage in both frames.
That duo would go on to finish the ballgame a combined 6-for-8 on the night with, notching all but two of the hits tallied up by the commodores.
Odds and ends
Tennessee logged just six hits on the night, but of those six hits, four were solo home runs. The other two base hits came from a Blake Burke single in the sixth and a leadoff Jared Dickey double in the top of the 10th. Another foot and that would have been the walk off winner for the Vols. Instead, Merritt accomplished the task two extra innings later.
With the win tonight, Tennessee avoids a five-game losing streak for what would have been the first time since April 22 – May 2, 2016. This is also the first five-game win-streak Tennessee has over Vanderbilt since 1995-1997.
Tennessee might have played its best baseball of late in this game as well, even before the later inning heroics. The Vols finished the ballgame with just six hits, but were robbed of would-be base hits on several occasions in the ballgame. Kavares Tears was robbed on a 5-6-3 putout at first to end the fourth after hitting it directly to the third baseman (shifted) who flipped it to the short stop, who finished the play at first. Enrique Bradfield Jr. robbed Hunter Enlsey with a diving catch on what would have been a leadoff single in the sixth. Dickey had a couple of hard hit balls right at defenders, as did Christian Moore. Tennessee finished the game going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-11 with runners on base.
The Vols also played some inspired defense on a Friday night. Sure, Lindsey was charged for an error covering the first base bag in the first inning, but it didn’t come back to bite him. Instead, Maui Ahuna played his best defensive game in the field, making a couple of spectacular plays. One was a backhanded stop and throw, deep in the 5-6 hole and another was a basket catch over the shoulder in shallow left field. Christian Moore also made an impressive glove-flip for an out in the third inning. Griffin Merritt also launched an incredible throw from the right field corner to second base to gun down a Parker Noland who was trying to stretch a single into a double.
The post Six Quick Takes on a walk off thriller for Tennessee over Vanderbilt appeared first on On3.