KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Tennessee won its ninth consecutive game to start the season on Wednesday, cruising past UNC Asheville 12-1.
Tennessee preseason All-American Aleric Soularie, who entered Wednesday 4-for-25 at the plate, belted out a solo home run to left field in the second inning. Zach Daniels and Jake Rucker each added an RBI in the third before Tennessee combined to score nine runs in the sixth and seventh inning.
Connor Pavolony started the party in the sixth with a 2-run home run to left field before Evan Russell followed it up with a 2-rum home run to take a 7-0 lead. Pete Derkay once again came off the bench, delivering two RBI, one on a single in the sixth and the other with a double in the seventh.
“We have a lot of power in this offense,” Russell said. “You never get a break from one through nine, it’s hard to get every single person out and that’s what gives a lot of people confidence. You were never out of an inning. If someone can’t get it going the next person will.”
“It’s tough to compare because schedules and timing are different but I think one through nine we’re better,” head coach Tony Vitello said. “Last year we had to rely on freshman in particular and some guys that weren’t as physical as they are now. Now I think up and down the lineup, almost everybody can run pretty well and everyone is pretty physical and has the ability to drive the ball and if it’s a good day drive it out of the park but if not, for an extra base hit.
Tennessee used five pitchers against the Bulldogs. Jackson Leath got the start, tossing one inning before Mark McLaughlin came in to pitch the next five innings. The freshman right-hender earned his first career win, throwing a one-hitter to go with five strikeouts.
The Vols begin a 3-game series with George Washington on Friday at 4 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.