By Gabriel Daniel
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- No. 23 Tennessee got back into the win column Tuesday with a 9-4 victory over Austin Peay at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Vols (32-16, 12-12 SEC) used a big game from their inconsistent offense to lead them past the Governors (23-25, 13-11).
Tennessee wasted no time getting a run thanks to senior Christian Scott. In the bottom of the second Scott smoked a ball to left field for his sixth home run of the season.
“Earlier in the at bat it kind of wasn’t going his way,” said head coach Tony Vitello. “He’s really matured a lot and able to maintain composure in that situation and others where, I think he would agree, freshman year he probably doesn’t.”
Scott has been locker room leader for the Vols being one of the few seniors on the team and having spent all five of his seasons at Tennessee. Scott struggled in his at bats early in the season, having under an under .200 batting average. But lately Scott has found success at the plate with five total hits in the Georgia series and four in the Mississippi State series.
The Vols kept the momentum sparked by the Moore home run into the third inning. Jared Dickey, Blake Burke, and Christian Moore each had a hit to start the inning loading the bases for Tennessee. After two outs it was up to sophomore Charlie Taylor in the nine spot to drive in some runs. Taylor delivered with a blast to center field for a grand slam.
“That sounded like a buckshot when he [Taylor] hit it, kind of like a couple of other really good ones we’ve had. You know the crowd, that’s one of the louder ovations or just yells when the ball was struck and then when the ball hit the batters eye that I’ve heard,” said Vitello.
Taylor has had a quiet season for the Vols. Only a part-time starter, Taylor has only had 66 at bats and has a .227 batting average. While Taylor hasn’t had a groundbreaking season, he has had some key moments. Against Alabama A&M he had two home runs, a triple, and five RBIs.
The Vols’ bat would stay hot, adding on another two home runs with one from Maui Ahuna and another from Griffin Merritt.
After the grand slam it was smooth sailing for Tennessee until hitting trouble in the sixth. Pitcher Bryce Jenkins trouble finding the strike zone and walked three straight pitchers allowing a runner. Freshman Andrew Behnke was put in for Jenkins and allowed another two walks and two more runs.
Apart from the sixth inning struggles, the Vols’ pitchers were successful throughout the game. Tennessee pitchers stuck out 15 batters and allowed only seven hits on the day. Behnke led the team with four strikeouts while also not allowing a hit.
Up next the Vols take on No. 17 Kentucky at Lindsey Nelson Stadium for a pivotal series. Game one Friday with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. EST. The game will be aired on SEC Network plus.