KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — No. 1 Tennessee opened NCAA Regional play without a staple behind home plate. Vols graduate catcher and Tennessee native Evan Russell was unavailable for the game. Redshirt freshman catcher Charlie Taylor, instead, started against Alabama State.  

Taylor was met with a standing ovation and a “Let’s go Charlie” during his at-bats.  

The Vols hit five home runs to blow past Alabama State, 10-0.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Blade Tidwell made his 8th start on the mound this season. Tidwell pitched 7.2 innings only giving up three hits, and no runs while striking out seven of the 26 batters he faced.  

Tidwell opened the game with an easy 1-2-3 inning. Tennessee registered a hit thanks to a double to right field from Luc Lipcius.  However, the super senior was stranded following a line out and a pop-up to close a scoreless first inning.  

The Hornets recorded its first hit of the game after D Espinal singled to right field and advanced to third on two errors. The Vols stifled the Hornet’s threat following a groundout to close the inning. Tennessee struck first adding its first run in the bottom of the inning. Trey Lipscomb hit a single and then Jorel Ortega hit a double to left-center field to give Tennessee a 1-0 lead.  

The Vols added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth. Ortega crushed a solo home run to center field to give the Vols a 2-0 lead. Ortega (stat line). 

While Blade cruised on the mound while the Vols kept the bats hot. Tennessee added a run in the bottom of the fifth. Jordan Beck hit a sac fly to score Seth Stephenson and to give UT a 3-0 advantage.  

Tennessee broke it open in the bottom of the sixth after adding five runs. Charlie Taylor was met with a standing ovation from fans and laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Blake Burke. The Vols added four more runs with two outs. Lipcius hit an RBI single to give UT a 5-0 lead. Then Jordan Beck crushes a two-run shot to left-center field. Drew Gilbert hit a solo blast to give Tennessee back-to-back home runs and an 8-0 lead.

UT added some more insurance in the bottom of the seventh. Blake Burke hit his 12th homer of the year with a solo shot to right-center field and gave UT a 9-0 lead. 

The “Volunteer Fireman” Ben Joyce took over on the mound in the top of the eighth after a ground out and a strikeout from Tidwell. Joyce finished the inning with a strikeout to keep the Hornets scoreless.  

In the bottom of the eighth, Beck left the yard for the second time of the night. His solo shot gave UT a 10-0 lead over the Hornets.

Mark McLaughlin shut it down completing the final inning.

UP NEXT: No. 1 Tennessee will take on No. 3 seeded Campbell on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.