KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– No. 1 Tennessee handled yet another non-conference opponent in Alabama A&M, launching five home runs in a dominant 14-1 record-breaking victory on Tuesday night at Lindsay Nelson Stadium.
The night started with a Jordan Beck home run in the first inning which drove in three runs and put immediate pressure on the Bulldogs. Beck also drove home another run in the second inning to increase the Vols lead, finishing his night with four RBIs.
However, Beck wasn’t the only one producing in his spot. Sophomore Kyle Booker, who pinch hit for Beck, also knocked a home run over the left field wall driving in two more runs. Then the bottom fifth inning saw freshman Blake Burke get on the board and drive home three runs with his sixth home run of the season.
Ethan Payne, who replaced everyday starter Cortland Lawson, got his first homer of the season in the seventh and simultaneously tied Tennessee’s all-time record for home runs in a season. However, it was in the eighth inning and in the last at-bat of the night for the Vols, when shortstop Logan Steenstra cranked one over the wall to make history and set the new mark.
Steenstra’s home run marked the Vols’ 108th home run, surpassing the previous record of 107 set by the 1998 team. The only difference? The 1998 Vols hit the mark in 56 games, while the 2022 Vols beat the record in just 45 games still with 11 regular season games left.
Aside from the new record, the Vols continued their success on the mound with good contributions from midweek starter Zander Sechrist, who went 1.1 innings and only giving up a hit.
Tennessee had some good news on the mound as it also saw the return of Chase Dollander who recorded one perfect inning of work in his first game action since being hit in his throwing elbow by a line drive against Alabama and missing his turn in the weekend rotation in the last two SEC series. Dollander’s return could pose to be a good expectation in his availability moving forward.
Tennessee pitchers managed to combine for nine strikeouts altogether along with only giving up one run on four hits.
While it was just a late season midweek game against an out of conference team, Tuesday’s game had a few special moments and continued to showcase the Vols’ dominance. Setting a new home run record and seeing the return of a valued pitcher made for quite a scene at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Vols improve to 41-4 on the year as they gear up travel to Lexington for a weekend series against Kentucky with game one starting on Thursday. The Wildcats are currently 24-20, having only won a third of their conference games, as they prepare to host the top-ranked team in the country.
Though they are 3-7 in their last ten games, they are a much better home team and will look to give the visiting Vols a tough challenge as the end of the season quickly approaches.