#1 Vols Fall To Vanderbilt In SEC Tournament Opener

  • Thursday, May 23, 2024
Vols Fall In SEC Tourney
Vols Fall In SEC Tourney

 No. 1/1 Tennessee didn't open its 2024 SEC Tournament run the way it had hoped, falling to Vanderbilt, 13-4, at the Hoover Met on Wednesday evening.

The Volunteers were unable to overcome a tough night on the mound in which they used eight pitchers and gave up 15 hits, including four home runs.

UT (46-11) was only able to muster four runs on seven hits, three of which came on one swing from sophomore designated hitter Reese Chapman.

After the Vols struck first with an RBI double from Hunter Ensley in the bottom of the second inning, the Commodores quickly erased the deficit and jumped in front with a five-run third inning, scoring four of their five runs with two outs.

Following another Vanderbilt run in the top of the fourth to extend its lead to 6-1, Tennessee mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning to get back in the game.

Kavares Tears single followed by a Dean Curley walk put two aboard for Chapman, who launched an 0-1 pitch over the right-field wall for a three-run homer to cut the deficit to two.

The Commodores (37-20) answered with a run in the top of the fifth and built their lead back up to five on a two-run homer by Alan Espinal in the top of the seventh, his second long ball of the game after hitting a three-run shot in the third inning. The senior catcher was the catalyst for Vandy's attack, finishing with five RBIs on the day.

Jonathan Vastine put the exclamation point on the Dores' win with a three-run homer of his own in the top of the eighth to make it 12-4.

On a positive note for the Vols, sophomore righthander AJ Russell made his return from injury by tossing a scoreless sixth inning despite having to work out of some trouble after allowing the first two batters to reach base. The Franklin, Tennessee, native struck out Vastine to strand runners on the corners to end the frame and finished with a pair of punchouts in the inning.

Nate Snead got the starting nod, his first as a Vol and just the second of his career, and got off to a great start with a pair of scoreless innings before running into trouble in the third. The Wisconsin native was stuck with the loss after allowing five runs on five hits in 2.2 innings.

Blake Burke was a bright spot for the offense, reaching base three times, drawing a walk and leading the team with a pair of base hits. Tears, Curley and Bradke Lohry also added singles for the Orange and White.

STAT OF THE GAME: With a shutout inning of relief, Kirby Connell extended his streak of scoreless appearances to nine. The veteran lefty did not allow a hit on Wednesday and has not surrendered a run since April 21 at Kentucky.

UP NEXT: The Vols will await the loser of Wednesday's nightcap between No. 4 seed Texas A&M and No. 5 seed Mississippi State, who they'll play in an elimination on Thursday afternoon at approximately 2 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

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