KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Ten different players recorded a hit and Tennessee’s pitching staff struck out 16 batters in a dominating 21-1 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Tuesday’s home opener at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The 16th-ranked Vols (4-0) scored runs in six different innings, including an 11-run outburst in the bottom of the eighth to win their third straight home opener.
Max Ferguson hit his first home run of the year and led the team with four RBI while Jordan Beck had another solid game, going 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and three RBI to pace the offensive onslaught. Pete Derkay added a home run for the Vols, as well.
Seven players made their Tennessee debuts in the win, including redshirt junior pitcher Jason Rackers, who got the starting nod and pitched two solid innings for the Vols after returning from Tommy John surgery.
Senior left hander Will Heflin got the win for UT, striking out eight consecutive batters at one point in his relief appearance. The Morristown native pitched 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk. The foursome of Will Mabrey, Connor Housley, Zander Sechrist and Kirby Connell combined to pitch the final 3.2 innings and allowed just one hit.
Another player that shined in his collegiate debut was freshman outfielder Kyle Booker. The Mississippi native got the start in center field and finished with a run and three RBI while also making a couple nice defensive plays.
A solo home run by Humberto Maldonado in the second inning accounted for the only run for the Golden Lions (0-1).
Tennessee and UAPB face off again tomorrow with first pitch slated for 4:30 p.m. The game can be seen on WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app.
Tennessee Debuts: Seven players made their Tennessee debuts on Tuesday. Kyle Booker, Jason Rackers, Connor Housley, Ethan Payne, Cortland Lawson, Zander Sechrist and Brock Lucas all made appearances for the Big Orange.
UT also had a handful of players record their first career hits in Booker, Lawson, Payne and Logan Steenstra.
TAKE A SEAT: Tennessee’s pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts and walked just one batter on the day. Senior lefty Will Heflin, making his first appearance since 2019 after undergoing knee surgery prior to the 2020 season, struck out eight batters in 3.1 innings of work. Connor Housley was also impressive, striking out the side in his one inning of work.
BIG EIGHTH INNING: The Vols exploded for 11 runs in the eighth inning, cranking out nine hits in the frame. Six different players recorded a base hit in the inning and six of the nine total hits went for extra bases.