OXFORD, Miss. - Scoring early and never relenting at the plate or on the mound, the No. 1/5 Tennessee baseball team defeated No. 1/1 Ole Miss, 12-1, Friday Night at Swayze Field in the series opener.
Chase Burns was electric on the mound in his first SEC road start.The true freshman did not give up a hit until the fifth inning and fanned a career-high 11 Mississippi hitters. He gave up just one run, a solo homer in the seventh, which was one of only two hits he conceded in a masterful performance.
The Vols (21-1, 4-0 SEC) totaled 14 strikeouts from their three pitchers. Mark McLaughlin K'ed a pair in the eight while Kirby Connell punched out one in the ninth.
UT's power bats continued to dominate as the Big Orange smashed five home runs into the night sky and added a triple off the wall. The difference maker in the game was Tennessee's ability to score walked batters. Four-of-five runners who reached via a walk eventually crossed the plate.
Notably, Tennessee's last three home runs were to the opposite field. Two of these came when the Vols were behind in the count, emphasizing the quality of at bats Big Orange hitters are having this season.
Tennessee started the offensive in the second inning. The Vols drew two free bases, both walks, to set up the big top half. Evan Russell kicked off the scoring with a line drive single through the left side to score Drew Gilbert. After another walk, Cortland Lawson drove a ball halfway up the wall in right-center to clear the bags for a three-run triple. Jared Dickey kept the train rolling, smoking a first pitch hanging breaking ball over the wall in right field to cap a six-run second inning.
Luke Lipcius added on in the fourth, sending a mammoth shot out of Swayze Field. He saw a middle-in 2-2 change up and skied it over the seats in right field to increase the Volunteer lead to 7-0 after three and a half innings.
Again, using the long-ball, Tennessee plated another three runs in the fifth inning. Jordan Beck reached on an infield single to the right side, then Gilbert walked, setting up a Trey Lipscomb opposite field shot. Lipscomb waited on a down-and-away fastball, shooting it into the Rebels' bullpen in right field for his 10th homer of the season, putting the Vols ahead by double-digits.
The Big Orange hitters weren't done yet, as Dickey added his second blast of the game, another opposite field jack for UT. The left fielder took a middle-away fastball on 2-2 count into the Vols' bullpen, which had yet to be used as Burns cruised through the Ole Miss lineup.
Ole Miss got in the score column in the seventh as Tim Elko sent a solo home run over the wall in center field. That marked the only Rebel run of the game.
In the closing inning, Blake Burke put a bow on the Tennessee offensive effort, with a pinch-hit big fly over the wall in left center to score the 12th and final Big Orange run of the game.
RISING TO THE OCCASION
Friday night starter Chase Burns has faced three Power 5 opponents this season - Texas, South Carolina and Ole Miss. In those three games he is averaging 10.0 strikeouts per game, double his average of 5.0 against non-Power 5 opponents.
Burns now holds an ERA of 0.80. Entering the day he was one of 18 players nationally with a sub-1.00 ERA.
DOUBLE DOWN DICKEY
Redshirt freshman Jared Dickey hit multiple home runs in a game for the second time this season. He is the only Volunteer with two multi-home run games this year.
Last season, the Vols held the best road record in the SEC at 16-5. The Vols took care of business in their first true road game of the season, winning their second consecutive SEC road opener (defeated Georgia 11-6 last season).