Knoxville — The Tennessee offense exploded for 19 runs while the pitching staff posted another shutout in Saturday’s 19-0 rout of Western Illinois at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Vols had 11 players record a base hit and eight players drive in runs as the Big Orange scored their most runs in a single game since head coach Tony Vitello took over the program in 2018. Saturday also marked UT’s largest margin of victory since a 20-1 win over Central Michigan on Feb. 28, 2016.
Junior slugger Zach Daniels led the charge at the plate, going 2-for-3 on the afternoon while scoring a career-high four runs. He also hit his 10th career home run and finished the day with three RBI.
Drew Gilbert was the only other Vol to have multiple hits, going 2-for-2 with a double and three RBI in his Tennessee debut. The highly-touted freshman from Minnesota also pitched the ninth inning for UT, striking out three of the four batters he faced.
Junior right hander Chase Wallace made his first-career start on the mound and was dominant from start to finish. The Sevierville, Tennessee native allowed just two hits and one walk in 5.2 innings and struck out six batters en route to earning the win.
The foursome of Elijah Pleasants, Kody Davidson, Mark McLaughlin and Gilbert combined to pitch the final 3.1 innings to preserve the shutout.
Leathernecks’ starting pitcher Jace Warkentien was able to keep UT’s hitters at bay until the Vols exploded for six runs in the fifth inning to chase him from the game.
The Big Orange went on to score three runs in the sixth, seven runs in the seventh and one more run in the eighth after leading just 2-0 heading into the fifth inning.
Tennessee will go for the series sweep tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is slated for noon.
Season Opening Shutouts
For the second straight season, Tennessee has opened the year with back-to-back shutouts. In 2019, the Vols did not allow a single run over their first four games.
Going, Going, Gone!
After hitting a pair of home runs in Friday’s season opener, the Big Orange sent two more balls over the fence on Saturday.
Daniels and Austin Knight both hit three-run blasts in the bottom of the seventh inning to give UT an 18-0 lead. It was the 10th career homer for Daniels and the first of Knight’s career.
Wallace Dazzles in Starting Role
Wallace showed why he’s been mentioned as one of the team’s most improved pitchers this offseason. The junior right hander set career highs in innings pitched (5.2) and strikeouts (six) in his first start at the collegiate level.
Wallace became the third pitcher on Tennessee’s current roster to not allow a run in their first start for the program, joining Camden Sewell (2019 vs. Middle Tennessee) and Chad Dallas, who accomplished the feat in yesterday’s win.
Tennessee 3, Western Illinois 0
Tennessee opened its 2020 season with a shutout win over Western Illinois on a chilly Friday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Pitching ruled the day for the Vols in their 3-0 victory, as sophomore starter Chad Dallas and junior reliever Sean Hunley combined to throw nine shutout innings while holding the Leathernecks to just two base hits.
A pair of home runs from Connor Pavolony and Jake Rucker accounted for all of the runs in Friday’s contest.
Dallas got the opening day start in place of Garrett Crochet, who is dealing with minor arm soreness and was held out for precautionary reasons. The junior college transfer made the most of his opportunity, tossing five scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and two walks to go along with four strikeouts en route to earning a win in his first-career appearance for the Big Orange.
Hunley picked up right where Dallas left off, retiring the first eight batters he faced. The Mount Juliet, Tennessee native allowed just one hit and struck out a pair over four innings to earn his first save of the season.
WIU ace Javin Drake was stuck with the loss despite a solid performance on the mound. The senior right hander allowed just two runs on two hits and struck out five batters in five innings of work.