KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 16 Tennessee (5-0) continued its hot hitting by scoring eight runs in the first inning and never looking back in a 14-6 win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Wednesday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Liam Spence set the tone with a double to open the game and Jake Rucker drove in the first two runs of the game with a triple two batters later. Luc Lipcius followed with his first home run of the year and before you could blink UT had a 4-0 lead.
Five different Vols has two or more runs batted in on the day, with senior outfielder Evan Russell leading the way. The Lexington, Tennessee, native made his first start of the year after dealing with soreness in his wrist and went 2-for-3 with three runs and three RBI. All three of the runs Russell drove in came on a no-doubt home run in the fourth inning that cleared the porches in left field.
Sophomore right hander Mark McLaughlin got the start on the mound and was nearly unhittable in three innings of work. The Georgia native allowed just one base runner and had six strikeouts in his 2021 debut.
Drew Gilbert made his first pitching appearance of the season and got the win after tossing two shutout innings of relief, finishing with three strikeouts. Freshmen Hollis Fanning, Shawn Scott and Brock Lucas also made their collegiate pitching debuts on Wednesday.
Nick Kreutzer led Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-2) with two hits, two runs and an RBI while Timothy Martin also drove in a pair of runs for the Golden Lions.
Tennessee continues homestand with a four-game weekend series against Indiana State, which is scheduled to begin on Friday at 4:30 p.m. All four games will be streamed on Watch ESPN.
WELCOME BACK RUSS: Senior outfielder Evan Russell was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday after dealing with some wrist soreness that prevented him from playing much over the first four games. Russell didn’t miss a beat, finishing with two hits, two runs, a home run and three RBI.
WASTING NO TIME: The Vols ended any hope of an upset for the Golden Lions with an 8-run first inning. The Vols had six hits in the inning and three extra-base hits. The eight runs in the most in the first inning of a game under Tony Vitello, besting the previous high of seven in a 10-1 win over James Madison on March 6, 2018.
MIDWEEK MASTERS: After Wednesday’s victory, Tennessee is now 30-5 in midweek games since Vitello took over as head coach in 2018.