Sechrist and Connell Shine in Tennessee’s Nailbiter Over Southern Indiana

Photo Credit: Lily Jennette/Tennessee Athletics

By Jace Brown

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- A rainy evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium hosted a showdown
between Tennessee and Southern Indiana. Tennessee, on the heels of its 15-5 victory
Tuesday night against Kansas State, extended its win streak to 12 with a 2-1 win over
the Screaming Eagles.

Tennessee (13-1) put up 15 runs on six home runs Tuesday night versus Kansas State,
who was ranked in the preseason top 25 polls. The Vols’ bats seemed to be tired after
such a performance, only putting together six hits across the night.

Southern Indiana (4-8) troubled the Tennessee offense from the jump, not a new
phenomenon for the Vols in midweek action. The Screaming Eagles pitchers put
together 12 strikeouts, three being against Dean Curley, who had a career night versus
Kansas State with three home runs and nine runs batted in.

Southern Indiana also put a hush over the small crowd at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in
the sixth thanks to a solo blast from designated hitter Tucker Ebest, his second of the
season and the team’s third of the same margin.

That was the lone notch against the Vols thanks to a career night from lefty pitcher
Zander Sechrist. Sechrist put together his longest outing, going 5 2/3 innings and also
set a career high in strikeouts with 10.

“It had a high school vibe to it,” Sechrist said about the game. “Kind of flashed me back
to the good ol’ days of high school ball. I had a lot of fun tonight, even when I gave up a
run and came out of the game, that was the happiest I’ve probably been after giving up
a homer.”

Sechrist’s big night was followed up and closed out by graduate lefty Kirby Connell.
Connell earned his third career save, his first since 2021, with three shutout innings and
four strikeouts. Two baserunners reached safely on errors by Curley and his
replacement at shortstop Ariel Antigua, both freshmen. The veteran worked around the
errors and boosted Tennessee over the hump.

“Those two lefties are out there a bunch for us,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello
said. “They’re reliable… being reliable is pretty important. That’s why they’re out there.At the same time, those two guys have been taken out of games real quick… but all
they ever do is show up with the same attitude every single day, same leadership, same
will to get better.”

While the offense was weary on the evening, Tennessee still found a way to win.
Tennessee second baseman Christian Moore stayed hot and followed Tuesday’s
performance with another clutch moment. Moore answered Ebest’s solo shot with one
of his own to opposite field, making it back-to-nights with a home run for him. Moore
finished 2-of-4 on the night and his season average now sits at .392.

The other run was driven in by Tennessee’s Dalton Bargo on a sac fly, plating first
baseman Blake Burke. Outfielder Kavares Tears had another solid night as the four-
hole batter in the Tennessee offense, going 2-for-3 and improving his average to .429.

Only the sixth inning saw any runs scored, but that was all the Vols needed to fight of a
pesky Screaming Eagles team out of the OVC. Tennessee’s next bouts will again take
place at Lindsey Nelson Stadium with a weekend series against Illinois. First pitch for
the opener on Friday, March 8, is set for 6:00 p.m. ET and will be streaming on SEC