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OTH On Deck: Tennessee Baseball Looks to End Losing Streak Against Vandy

via UT Athletics
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A four-game losing streak has befallen Tennessee baseball. The Vols returned from Arkansas after getting swept to face Tennessee Tech on Tuesday. 

That game resembled a common midweek game, with a blowout in Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The only problem, Tennessee was the one getting blown out. 

With their win, the Golden Eagles move to 11-24 on the year and further hinder the Vols postseason resume. 

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So, here are a couple of takeaways from a rough week, a look at the postseason picture and a scouting report of Vanderbilt. 

The Starting Rotation for Tennessee Baseball

We saw a new starting rotation in Fayetteville, and the results weren’t terrible. Andrew Lindsey – the transfer from Charlotte who was expected to take on a closer role – had success against the Razorbacks on Friday and gave Tennessee a chance to win. 

Chase Dollander, the former Friday ace, rolled out on Saturday against Arkansas. Drew Beam started in his normal Sunday role, and did not look good. Instead, Chase Burns, who has had struggles in his Saturday role, looked good in relief against Arkansas. 

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What will the starting rotation look like this weekend against Vanderbilt? Skipper Tony Vitello was non-commital about his rotation, but sounded like we won’t see much change. 

It’s time 

There is no time but now for Tennessee baseball to get the train back on the tracks. Frankly, the time is running out. 

Vitello took some of the blame on Tuesday, for not putting the team in a position to succeed, but he isn’t the one running the bases or catching pop flies. 

“There’s no more talking, there’s doing,” he added. “May is the month you want to look forward to as a student-athlete in college.”

Injury Bug Strikes 

Shortstop Maui Ahuna has been sidelined for the past few games. Vitello told the media on Tuesday that he is suffering from back discomfort and his status is up in the air. 

Second baseman Christian Moore was in a walking boot in the dugout on Tuesday. His injury is new, and Vitello hadn’t had a chance to talk to Tennessee trainer Jeff Wood. His status is also unclear. 

Another new one on the list is Zach Joyce. The closer, who has a history of elbow injuries, went down holding his elbow while pitching on Tuesday night. There wasn’t much of an update, but Vitello said it “doesn’t look good.”

Tennessee Baseball Postseason Picture 

Not ideal. Tennessee is currently 5-10 in SEC play. The number that gets you into the postseason is usually 15-15. The Vols made it in at 14-16 in 2019. When Ole Miss made a run and won the championship last year, they finished 14-16 in SEC play. 

Tennessee has 15 more conference games remaining. Those games include Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, at Georgia, Kentucky and at South Carolina. 

The road is not easy, but sweeps against Mississippi State and Georgia would help. The top-12 teams make it to Hoover, and a good run in the tournament could help Tennessee’s stock as well. 

A Look at Vanderbilt 

The Commodores boast the best record in conference play, sitting at 13-2 SEC, 29-7 overall. Vandy, for the first time in a while under Tim Corbin, has a rotation of all lefties. 

A matchup nightmare for Tennessee’s lefty-heavy lineup. The highest ERA among Vanderbilt’s rotation is 3.46 from Carter Holton. 

Outfielder RJ Schreck is hitting .354 with 41 RBIs. Enrique Bradfield continues to be an issue for teams on the basepaths, going 26-for-30 on stolen base attempts while hitting .310. 

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