KNOXVILLE - Playing its first game in program history as the unanimous No. 1-ranked team in the country, the Tennessee baseball team defeated Western Carolina, 11-1, for its 16th consecutive victory, tying the program record that was set back in 1994.
With superb play in all three phases of the game, the Volunteers (24-1, 6-0 SEC) recorded their sixth game this season scoring in double-digits and conceding one run or fewer. The electric Big Orange offense score 10 or more runs for the 15th time this year.
Christian Moore and Blake Burke both led the surge at the plate as the true freshman duo tallied a pair of hits and three RBIs. Moore connected on a pair of extra-base knocks, while Burke's bases-clearing double in the sixth capped the UT scoring.
On the mound, UT pitchers punched out 15 Western Carolina hitters, marking the fifth time this season the staff finished a game with 15 or more strikeouts. Only allowing one run, the team lowered its combined ERA to 1.86. Entering the day, the Vols were the only club in the country with ERA under two. The Vols also did not walk a batter for the third time this season.
The Volunteer offense wasted no time getting on the board as Moore blasted the first pitch he saw 443 feet into the wind in left center. His leadoff home run came off the bat at 108 mph and was the first of three runs the Vols plated in the opening frame. Seth Stephenson quickly followed with a double to the wall in left and Drew Gilbert plated him with an opposite-field shot into the porches for his second home run of the year.
Tennessee scored again in the third, capitalizing on a pair of defensive miscues from the Catamounts. The Vols only tallied one hit in the inning, but four free bases and two errors scored Jordan Beck, Gilbert and Luc Lipcius.
Moore got the Vols on the board again in the fifth when he laced a triple that started towards the gap in right-center, but blew all the way to the right-field line. Lipcius and Charlie Taylor circled the bags and pushed the Big Orange lead to 8-0 after five complete innings.
Western Carolina scored its only run in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of back-to-back extra-base hits to start the inning. Blade Tidwell recorded a pair of strikeouts later in the inning in his first action this season.
UP NEXT: Tennessee travels to the mid-state to take on No. 3/9 Vanderbilt in a top-five weekend series. First pitch on Friday night is slated for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
HE'S BACK: Making his 2022 debut, Blade Tidwell pitched the sixth inning for the Vols, striking out a pair of Catamounts.
WEEKDAY WINNERS: Tennessee is now 8-0 in midweek games this season. The Vols improved their record to 46-7 in weekday games in the Tony Vitello Era.
COMING OUT IN BUNCHES: With a crowd of 4,607 Wednesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, Tennessee posted the fourth-largest crowd for a game in program history. It was also the largest midweek crowd ever to witness a Vols' baseball game and the second-largest attendance for a game this year.