May 17, 2019 10:30:51 AM
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers scored first in Thursday night's series opener and didn't look back, defeating No. 15 Ole Miss Baseball by a score of 7-0 to set the visiting team back to start the final SEC series of the year.
For the Rebels, the loss was their fifth loss in a row and fourth straight SEC loss.
A four-run fifth inning sparked the Volunteers, as the home team piled up the runs on the Rebel starter Will Ethridge. Ethridge, for the most part, turned in a quality outing save for the offensive barrage of a fifth inning, tying his second-longest start of the year with 7.0 innings pitched. He did, however, give up 10 hits on the night, setting the most of his career.
At the plate, the Rebels tallied four hits, two of them coming from the bat of Cole Zabowski, against Tennessee starter Garrett Stallings. The opposing arm was tremendous for the Volunteers, turning in a complete game with seven strikeouts and no walks.
At the onset of the game, Tennessee struck first with a manufactured run in the bottom of the first. Justin Ammons, the Tennessee leadoff hitter, doubled on a slow-roller right over first base and made it to third on a sacrifice bunt. He was sent to the plate by an RBI single, but the runner on first was quickly erased with a 6-4-3 double play a pitch later. Even though Ethridge gave up two hits and a run, it took him just five pitches to make it through the first.
Both starting pitchers were dueling through the game's first five frames, and the two teams were even able to reach the game's midway point in under an hour. It took Ethridge just 33 pitches to throw four complete innings, but he would find his solid outing tarnished by a four-run fifth inning.
After cruising through the first hour, Ethridge ran into some trouble when the Tennessee bats lit up in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Volunteers led it off with three straight hits, three singles and a double, before capping it off with a two-out RBI single. Before it was all said and done, Tennessee had plated four runs, three of them earned, on five hits, to take a 5-0 lead into the sixth inning.
Ethridge managed to bounce back with a pair of scoreless innings after the fifth, but a solo home run off the bat of Andre Lipcius in the bottom of the eighth forced Mike Bianco to relieve his starter for the right arm of Taylor Broadway.
Tennessee scored one more run in the bottom of the eighth against the new pitcher in Broadway, but it mattered little as the Rebels were unable to put anything together in the final inning.
The Rebels fell to the Volunteers 7-0 in the Thursday night opener in just their second shutout loss of the season. They will look to bounce back on Friday with freshman Doug Nikhazy on the mound and a first pitch set for 5:30 p.m. CT.