By Joseph Bonanno
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ― No. 18 Tennessee (5-0) unleashed their explosive offense in a 27-1 win over Iona (0-4) in Friday night’s series opener at Lindsey-Nelson Stadium.
This is Tennessee’s second straight game with double digit runs after scoring 16 in a win over UNC Asheville earlier in the week.
The Vols’ 27 runs is the second most in a single game under head coach Tony Vitello, The team had 21 hits in the game, five of which left the park.
The offense was led by senior third baseman Trey Lipscomb, who went 5-5 with nine RBIs, including a 3-run homer in the first inning. Lipscomb hit for Tennessee’s fourth cycle in program history, and the first since Jordan Rodgers did it on April 1, 2016 in a game against Kentucky.
Lipscomb’s batting average is up to .526 on the season and he leads the team with 10 hits, three home runs, and 15 RBIs on the season.
Eight of Tennessee’s nine starters recorded a hit in Friday’s game, including catcher Evan Russell who hit his first home run of the season and added four RBIs. Junior short stop Courtland Lawson, freshman Blake Burke, and freshman Jared Dickey also hit their first home runs.
On the defensive side of things, freshman standout Chase Burns made his second career start, going five innings, allowing four hits, one walk, and adding four more strikeouts to bring his season total to nine.
Tennessee was able to get a lot of different players into the game, sending 18 batters to the plate, 13 of whom recorded a hit and 10 that drove in a run. The Vols also threw five different pitchers in the game.
Tennessee has outscored its opponents 76-5 in the first five games of the 2022 season. Despite the large margin, Vitello feels like it is too early to judge his team.
“I don’t necessarily think we’re a top ten team…at this point,” Vitello said. “I’m confident in our group, but we have a lot of improvement to do as a team but also we have some tests ahead of us so that (we) can have a fair conversation on the true litmus test of where we are at.”
The Vols return to Lindsey-Nelson Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m. EST for game 2 of the series. Sophomore transfer Chase Dollander (0-0, 5.40 ERA) is set to make his second start for Tennessee.