by Max Heath • @max_heath • Feb 20
Indiana Hoosiers (2-1) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (4-0)
Indiana baseball returns to Tennessee this weekend to take on an undefeated Volunteers club. The Vols swept the series against Appalachian State at home last weekend with dominant pitching from both their starters and their pen.
Tennessee finished 29-27 overall and 12-18 in the conference in 2018. With 79% of starts coming from underclassmen, it’s safe to say this team is much more mature and significantly improved. Although they owned a losing conference record, they managed a 9-5 home record against SEC teams with two series wins against ranked teams. They are dangerous on their home turf.
The Vols looked solid in their opening series under second year coach Tony Vitello. Their club held an Appalachian State team with an 18-36 record in 2018 to a donut in three straight games.Granted Appalachain State was 18-36 as a team last year, holding a team scoreless in 27 innings is extremely impressive. The Vols had eight different arms combine to give up just 22 hits and 9 walks while striking out 32. Garrett Crochet had a phenomenal relief effort striking out nine in just four innings on Saturday. It wasn’t just Crochet though, their entire bullpen was spectacular striking out 15 in 8 innings of work and not allowing a single hit. Their starting rotation was equally, if not more impressive on opening weekend giving up just nine hits in 19 innings of work. The Hoosiers have their work cut out for them as they won’t see a weak arm this weekend.
When: February 22-24 (3 game series)
Game 1- 4:30 p.m. ET
Game 2- 2:00 p.m. ET
Game 3- 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Lindsey Nelson Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee
Friday – The first arm for Tennessee will be junior Garrett Stallings. Stallings gave up one hit in seven innings and fanned eight. The righty sits around 90-91 with great control and sharp stuff. He is a pro arm ranked as the 119th overall draft prospect for the 2019 MLB draft by D1baseball.com. He will certainly test this Hoosier offense.
2018 STATS: 16 Appearances (11 Starts) W-L: 5-5, 78.2 IP, 4.58 ERA, 37 K, 8 BB
Saturday – The second arm will be the former flame throwing reliever Zach Linginfelter. After being selected in the 19th round by the Washington Nationals, Linginfelter decided to return for his junior season to improve his stock. His fastball is strong, buthis control is questionable at times. He led the team with three walks in five innings over the weekend. Its opening weekend so take that with a grain of salt, but Indiana’s baserunning could turn a few walks into a crooked number.
2018 STATS: 18 Appearances (4 Starts) W-L: 3-4, 55 IP, 3.93 ERA, 71 K, 38 BB
Sunday – The final day will be given to junior right hander, Will Neely. Listed at 5-foot-11, 155 pounds, Neely is nothing short of an electric arm. He tops out at around 94, while consistently sitting at 90-91. Neely is a ground ball guy, who can go very deep if he hits his spots. His first outing lasted seven innings with a total of 6 hits being given up.
2018 STATS: 14 Appearances (14 Starts) W-L: 4-2, 83.2 IP, 4.09 ERA, 52 K, 21 BB
VOLUNTEER BATS TO WATCH
Andre Lipcius, 3B – Lipcius was the Tennessee’s best hitter last year leading the team in average, homeruns, and RBI’s last year. However, Lipscius failed to get a hit in nine at-bats against Appalachian State reaching base twice on walks. He is still a dangerous hitter and definitely somebody to keep an eye on.
2018 Stats: 56 appearances (55 starts), .315 average, 7 HR, 42 RBI, 28 BB
Evan Russell, LF – Russell had a breakout weekend totaling two homeruns, two doubles and four RBIs. Russell only hit three total homeruns as a freshman last year, but a hot start in their opening series suggests that he is somebody to be weary of.
2018 Stats: 42 appearances (35 starts), .260 average, 3 HR, 23RBI, 16 BB
Jay Charleston, CF – Charleston has lightning speed and is an absolute menace on the base paths. He is highly regarded as one of the best baserunners in the SEC and surely will test Indiana’s catchers. He was a perfect 4-4 on attempts this weekend. Charleston had three hits and walked once, to start his year off strong. He could be a problem if the Hoosiers can’t keep him off the paths.
2018 Stats: 56 appearances (55 starts), .285 average, 4 HR, 26RBI, 21 BB, 21-26 SB
On the Air
The Watch ESPN stream this weekend will only be available to those who have a cable subscription AND have the SEC Network in their package. ESPN+ does not give access. You must use the Watch ESPN App and enter your cable provider. The video stream is for Friday and Saturday only.
Tennessee is providing a free play by play audio streamfor all three days.