Pitching Powers #7/9 Vols to Win Over UNC Asheville in Home Opener

Courtesy / UT Athletics

Pitching Powers #7/9 Vols to Win Over UNC Asheville in Home Opener

Courtesy / UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 7/9 Tennessee came out on top in a low-scoring affair against UNC Asheville in Tuesday night’s home opener inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium, earning a 3-2 victory over the Bulldogs.

Pitching was the story of the game for the Vols (3-1) on a night where hits and runs were hard to come by. Freshman Derek Schaefer, sophomore Andrew Behnke and redshirt freshman Austin Hunley combined to pitch the entire game and strike out 10 while issuing just one walk on the night.

Schaefer got the start, the first of his career, and settled in nicely after a rocky first inning in which he allowed a run on two hits and a walk. The Arizona native retired all six batters he faced in the second and third innings before handing the ball off to Behnke to start the fourth.

Behnke led all pitchers in the contest with five strikeouts in 2.2 innings of work while allowing one run on four hits. Hunley held the Bulldogs scoreless over the final 3.1 innings, scattering three hits and striking out a pair to earn the win in his collegiate debut.

Kavares Tears led the offense with his second straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a solo home run to tie the game at one in the bottom of the second inning. Christian Moore also drove in a run with an RBI single in the third to give UT a 2-1 lead.

After UNCA tied the game with a solo homer by Ben Hemphill in the fifth, it was Hunter Ensley who drove in the eventual game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh to score pinch runner Bradke Lohry and make it 3-2 Big Orange. Hunley retired six of the final seven batters of the game to keep the Bulldogs from mounting any kind of comeback.

UP NEXT: Tennessee is right back at it with another midweek game on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. when it hosts in-state foe ETSU.

STAT OF THE GAME: Attendance for Tuesday’s contest was 4,699, which set a program record for highest attendance in a home opener, breaking the previous record of 4,550 versus Alabama A&M in 2023.

Courtesy / UT Athletics

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