By Tucker Harlin
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 3 Tennessee (6-2) completed its first sweep of the season with a 6-0 shutout of Dayton (0-6) on Sunday afternoon.
The Volunteers’ effort was spearheaded by RHP Drew Beam (W, 2-0). The sophomore threw four strikeouts and gave up three walks and just one hit in 5.1 innings.
“I think I could’ve been better. I got into a lot of three-ball counts and walked a few guys so I don’t love that,” Drew Beam said. “I’m feeling good with my pitches and they are starting to feel a lot better. I can’t really complain.”
Beam had a strong outing, but he had to showcase some resilience as he was hit in the right leg by a comebacker in the third inning. At first, the sight mirrored that of Chase Dollander in the 2022 Alabama series, but Beam popped back up after a few seconds on the ground.
“It helps that I’ve been hit before,” Beam said. “It’s not a new feeling, it’s just something you’ve got to live with and it’s part of the game.”
The depth of the bullpen was on display again as Kirby Connell, Zach Joyce, Jacob Bimbi, Bryce Jenkins, and Andrew Lindsey all contributed to the shutout after Beam’s day was done.
“When you come to Tennessee, it’s because you want to play for Tony Vitello,” said acting head coach Josh Elander. The combination of Frank (Anderson)’s background and Tony’s background in pitching is the perfect combination for pitchers to come here.”
One question that remains unanswered is who the Vols’ center fielder will be. Tennessee started Hunter Ensley today in center field, but a mixture of guys have been called upon to fill the hole that Drew Gilbert’s departure has created.
“We trust a lot of guys out there,” Elander said. “I think giving guys reps in all three spots is important. Creating that versatility helps our guys take pride in playing all three.”
At the plate, Blake Burke was a catalyst for Tennessee as he drove in solo shots in both the first and fifth innings. His homers sandwiched a brilliant four-run second inning that featured a pair of RBI doubles from Jared Dickey and Christian Moore.
“The stuff he (Burke) does is just not normal,” Elander said. “He hits balls in BP, and you kind of scratch your head and you’re like ‘did that really just happen?’ I don’t think he gets enough credit for being a hitter because the ability to just flick that ball is special and not a lot of guys in the country can do that.”
The Vols look to continue their win streak with a pair of midweek contests against Charleston Southern on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.