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The Vols vs. Commodores series was the biggest weekend of college baseball the state of Tennessee had seen in some time, according to the ticket prices. The ticket prices to get in were hovering around $150 a piece for each game, showing us how much excitement was brewing for the mid-state clash.
The anticipation for the series had been building all week, with both fan bases chomping at the bit to see their two teams battle it out. After all was said and done, Tennessee humbled another SEC top 10 program with a series sweep on the road.
It all started on Friday night, when an equipment dispute handed Tennessee even more motivation to defeat their in-state rivals. Vols OF Jordan Beck hit a rocket to right field, which would’ve given Tennessee an early lead. But Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin decided to challenge the bat that was used, and the umpire crew agreed with him and deemed it illegal for “sticker” reasons.
Corbin may have won that battle, but he ultimately lost the war because the Vols then fed off the moment, easily took the first game 6-2 and then continued that momentum for the next two games.
On Saturday, the Vols came out like someone slashed their tires, playing with a level of ferocity we haven’t seen in a while. Chase Dollander struck out six batters in 8-plus innings of work. Trey Lipscomb went 3-4 at the plate, including a double and a home run, good for 3 RBIs. Jordan Beck also added to his hit total with an RBI double in the first inning.
Thanks to some stellar play in the field and a few more runs, Redmond Walsh closed out the Saturday night game in just ten pitches. The Vols won 5-2, and one more win on Sunday would mean consecutive conference sweeps.
There must’ve been a run on tickets for the Sunday matchup because Tennessee fans made their presence felt in Nashville. The Vols were looking to sweep Vanderbilt for the first time since 2009 and they didn’t disappoint the fans in orange.
Drew Beam got the start on Sunday, and the youngster delivered, pitching a complete game. He struck out four batters and gave up only two hits. This was exactly what head coach Tony Vitello and assistant Frank Anderson were looking for out of the freshman, who was in control the entire game.
Meanwhile, Drew Gilbert’s bat got things rolling in the scoring column. He blasted a homer to right field, setting off another offensive run at the Dores.
Gilby long ball gives us the lead!
📺 https://t.co/DiAD3jsQBz#GBO // #OTH // #BeatVandy pic.twitter.com/GmmK0j5Y4X
— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) April 3, 2022
Gilbert had 3 RBIs on the day, and Luc Lipcius and Jorel Ortega each drove in a run as well to skunk Vanderbilt 5-0.
Gilbert was asked after the game on Sunday if he noticed the hecklers decrease as the weekend went on, after a rowdy first two nights.
“Yeah, when you step on someone’s throat, they tend to quiet down a little bit.”
My goodness, this team is taking on the role of the villain on the road and the hero at home, as Gilbert mentioned postgame.
“Yea, I think it’s fun. We all embrace it and I think that helps us play on the road. We definitely embrace it. We don’t care if people are yelling at us. I think if you embrace it, things can go well.”
This is what Tennessee baseball is right now and it’s well deserved. They are playing like the No. 1 team in the country and acting like it too. The Vols have not trailed in a game since March 13th against Rhode Island.
The Vols will take a loss sometime this season again. Maybe soon. But right now, this team is playing with a mentality that should scare the rest of college baseball.