2 Vols Cruise Past Bellarmine, Reese Chapman Hits Two Homers

Photo Credit: Lily Jennette/Tennessee Athletics

By Riley Haltom

KNOXVILLE, Tenn – The second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers (31-6, 10-5) played host to a
midweek matchup against the Bellarmine Knights and came away with a dominating 20-5
victory. Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello made a major lineup adjustment for this matchup, with struggling catcher Cannon Peebles moving to the top of the lineup.

The highly sought-after NC State transfer has struggled since joining the Vols, with a .241
average and no home runs, a stark difference from his .352 average and 12 homers with the
Wolfpack. Vitello spoke on how Peebles can settle in.

“I think relax. When he’s going too fast, he takes away his strengths. He’s compact and
powerful. That comes from that intensity he has, and that drive he has to keep going… Cut out some of the extra, focus in.”

Sophomore outfielder Reese Chapman had himself a day against the Knights, with two home runs and a walk on the night. Chapman got the Vols started with a two-run longshot, followed by Blake Burke’s grand slam, marking the ninth on the season. Kavares Tears ended the seven-run inning with a solo shot. Vitello was impressed with Chapman’s preparation.

“It’s really beneficial to have him for so many reasons. He’s a good kid in the classroom, and
then he brings that over here… He sees a lot of value in things aside from making a Superman catch or hitting a home run.”

Bellarmine responded in the top of the third with a couple of homers of their own, totaling four runs, but the Vols would get a free run in the bottom of the third frame from a bases-loaded walk. Chapman’s second homer would come in the bottom of the fourth.

Scoring picked back up in the sixth, with the Vols finding a two-RBI single from Dalton Bargo. Ariel Antigua followed with an RBI single of his own. In the seventh inning, the Vols got their bench involved. Pinch-hitters Bradke Lohry and Alex Perry each hit an RBI single. Charlie Taylor hit a three-run homer to left.

Bellarmine responded with a solo homer, but the Vols wouldn’t go quietly without another big offensive inning. Colby Backus hit a solo homer to start the bottom of the eighth frame, followed by an RBI double from Bradke Lohry and an RBI single from Alex Perry. Tears was impressed with how the team has responded to adversity.

“We’re very competitive and we don’t give up easily. There have definitely been games where things didn’t go our way in the beginning or even the whole time. But we approach every at-bat like it’s a 0-0 game.”

Standout pitchers for the Vols included sophomore righty starter Marcus Phillips, who had two strikeouts over two innings pitched, both being three-up, three-down frames. He was awarded the win. Reliever Dylan Loy had three strikeouts over 2.1 innings. JJ Garcia retired all three batters he faced to close the game.

The Vols travel to Lexington to take on the third-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. The top-five
matchup starts on Friday at 6:30 ET.