The Vols baseball team opened the week with a pair of mid-week home wins against Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Tennessee then concluded the week by playing three games in the Tri-Star Classic, originally slated to be played at Smokies Stadium. However the field was not ready to be played on causing the Tri-Star Classic to be played on campus at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. East Tennessee State, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State and Tennessee played in the weekend of games.
On Friday, East Tennessee State defeated Tennessee 10-9. The Vols took a 7-6 lead into the ninth inning, but ETSU scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 10-7 lead. Evan Russell hit a two-run pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Vols could not score enough to tie or win the game.
On Saturday, Tennessee bounced back and defeated Memphis 2-1. Sophomore Garrett Stallings was a big part of UT’s victory by pitching a complete game effort. It was Stallings’ first-career complete game, improving to 2-0 on the season. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and allowed just one run on three hits and tied a career high with five strikeouts.
“We needed him tremendously as it relates to team morale, our record, preserving our bullpen and more than anything, establishing who our weekend rotation is,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “There’s questions marks. Now you don’t know who is going to be there. He’s a rock because he throws strikes, but he’s also a rock because his presence is really good. We kind of challenge the other pitchers to not match that kind of performance because there’s some big-leaguers who might not have been able to match it today, but match that effort, attitude and presence he has.”
Middle Tennessee State and Tennessee played in the Tri-Star Classic finale on Sunday afternoon as the Blue Raiders were victorious in 12 innings, winning 7-5. The Vols were down early, losing 3-0 in the second inning and had to play catch up early during the game.
Sophomore Andre Lipcius went 3-for-6, two runs and an RBI. Lipcius closed out the five-game week with a .450 batting average and led the team with nine hits, seven runs, two home runs, two doubles, seven RBIs and an .850 slugging percentage.
The Vols (7-5) will host James Madison on Tuesday and Wednesday before a weekend series at Cincinnati.