No. 7 Vols Lean on Tears and Villeneuve to Take Down High Point

Photo Credit: Kyndall Williams/ Tennessee Athletics

By Riley Haltom

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 7 Tennessee baseball team continued to struggle on Tuesday midweeks as they beat High Point University with a final score of 7-4. The Vols struggled to find consistency in the pitching against the Panthers.

In what is game six of a fifteen-game homestand, the Vols improved to 8-1 on the season. The win over the Panthers marks the seventh consecutive win for the Volunteers. Similar to their previous Tuesday contest against UNC Asheville, the Vols were inconsistent generating offense and struggled with pitching. The pitching staff as a whole had nine walks in the contest.

Starting pitcher Matthew Dallas, a true freshman out of Memphis, Tennessee, had a strong first two frames, facing the entire Panther lineup and finding three punchouts. However, he put himself in a tough position in the third inning after finding two outs. Dallas walked two batters and hit one with a pitch, loading the bases, when head coach Tony Vitello made a change. He turned to Austin Hunley, who had a phenomenal performance against UNC Asheville. Hunley got the final out, stranding three High Point runners.

Junior DH Robin Villeneuve got things started for the Vols offensively with a two-RBI single in the first inning. Villeneuve also had an RBI single in the sixth. Junior OF Kavares Tears spoke about Villeneuve’s transition to college.

“I saw his stats before he got here, when we were recruiting him and everything. I was excited to see him get here and still put up the same kind of numbers and at-bats.”

Tears also had himself a night, tying his career high with three hits including his fourth home run of the season. He reflected on the change in his approach.

“In the past, I kind of knew I had power so I’d always go for home runs, but as I’ve gotten older and matured a bit, I’ve realized that a home run swing doesn’t always equal a home run. So I’ve just simplified everything and try to put a good swing on.”

Third baseman Billy Amick also hammered his fourth home run of the season and catcher Cannon Peebles also connected with an RBI double to lift the Vols to seven runs. 

Veteran pitcher Kirby Connell brought some stability to the pitching staff late in the game, throwing 18 strikes over 26 pitches. Sophomore Nate Snead closed the game for the Vols, pitching the last two frames. He recorded his first save of the season, with five strikeouts and several pitches over 100 mph. 

The Vols are back in action this weekend against Bowling Green to kick off their March slate of games.