Baseball Preview: #17 Vols and Panthers Set to Square Off on Rocky Top

UT Baseball Team / Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Another tough test awaits the 17th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers this weekend as Georgia State comes to town for a three-game series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Panthers (4-6) have played arguably the toughest schedule of any team in the country thus far, with all 10 of their games coming against ranked opponents.

GAMEDAY INFORMATION

Relying on the expertise of public health authorities, the state of Tennessee, appropriate university and government agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are implementing a number of new initiatives at Tennessee Baseball gamedays this spring. The well-being of our student-athletes, fans and staff are our top priorities and guide our decisions. Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit.

The Southeastern Conference in August released several conference-wide fan health and safety guidelines for all member institutions this fall. The Tennessee-specific measures outlined on this page are in line with, and in addition to, the SEC’s guidelines.

Parking
Baseball parking is located primarily in Lots GF1, G16, and C1.

Additional on-street parking is located in C10 along Todd Helton Dr. and Chamique Holdsclaw Dr. and along West Volunteer Blvd.

Handicap parking is located in marked handicap spaces on Pat Head Summitt St. and in the G16 Volunteer Blvd. garage. The 2021 parking map can be seen HERE (PDF).

For more information and gameday info, visit the Tennessee Baseball Gameday Information page by clicking HERE.

Ticket Information
Season tickets for this season are sold out. There are limited seating options still available for select games in the Porch and Deck areas. Fans should contact Maggie Coates at 865-974-9579 or mcoates4@utk.edu for more information.

There are no single-game general admission tickets being sold at the stadium this season. Single-game tickets can be purchased via Vivid Seats by clicking HERE.

BROADCAST INFO

All three of this weekend’s contests are slated to be streamed live on SEC Network + and the ESPN app. Will Boling (PxP) and Charlie Puleo (color) will have the call for each game.

Fans can also listen to the games on UTSports.com and the UT Gameday app, as John Wilkerson and Vince Ferrara call the action.

PROJECTED STARTING PITCHERS

Game 1 – 6:30 PM: RHP Chad Dallas (1-0) vs. RHP Ryan Watson (1-0)
Game 2 – 6:00 PM: RHP Blade Tidwell (0-1) vs. RHP Trey Horton (0-0) OR LHP Cameron Jones (0-0)
Game 3 – 1:00 PM: TBD vs. RHP Trey Horton (0-0) OR LHP Cameron Jones (0-0)

SERIES HISTORY

Overall: Tennessee leads, 15-1
In Knoxville: UT leads, 10-0
In Atlanta: UT leads, 5-1
Neutral Sites: N/A
Last Meeting: W, 3-2 (March 7, 2004)

This weekend’s series will be the first meeting between the two programs since the Vols swept the Panthers in Knoxville back in 2007. All three games in that series were decided by two or fewer runs. Tennessee has dominated the all-time series, winning 16 of the 17 games, including a perfect 10-0 record in Knoxville.

NOTABLE

Hunley and Walsh Leading Pitching Staff
Veteran hurlers Sean Hunley and Redmond Walsh have been the backbone of Tennessee’s pitching staff this season despite not starting any games. The senior duo is a combined 4-0 on the year and has allowed just 11 hits and three earned runs in 20.2 combined innings of relief.

Hunley ranks second on the team with 12.2 innings pitched and played a major role in both of UT’s wins over Indiana State last weekend. The Mount Juliet native is also tied for the team lead with 16 strikeouts and has held opposing hitters to a .136 batting average. Walsh earned the win in Sunday’s series finale against the Sycamores and also has one save this season. He has yet to allow an earned run and is holding batters to a .167 average in eight innings pitched.

Beck Breaking Out
Sophomore outfielder Jordan Beck has been the Vols’ most dangerous hitter this season with a team high three home runs and 12 RBI through 10 games. Beck has reached base in all nine games he’s played in this season, with hits in seven of those contests. His 12 RBI rank 20th nationally and fourth in the SEC entering this weekend’s series.

Spence Continues to Produce
Senior shortstop Liam Spence has been the Vols’ most consistent hitter so far this season, leading the team with a .333 batting average, 10 runs and 13 hits. The Australian has a hit in nine of UT’s 10 games this season and has scored a run in eight games.

Non-Conference Dominance
Tennessee has been extremely successful against non-conference competition since the start of the 2019 season, posting a 49-9 record in that time.

The Vols’ 26 victories against non-conference teams during the 2019 season were their most since winning 30 in 2000. UT was 15-2 in non-league games last season and is off to an 8-2 start this year.

Vols in the Polls
Tennessee entered the 2021 season ranked in the Top 25 nationally in four of the six major polls. This year marked the first time that the Vols had been ranked in the preseason Top 25 since 2007, when UT was ranked as high as No. 11 to begin the season.

The Vols current rankings entering this week are listed below.

Tennessee Current Top 25 Rankings
USA Today                       #17
D1Baseball.com               #18
NCBWA                            #18
Baseball America            #22

OPPONENT SCOUT

Georgia State Panthers

  • 2021 Record: 4-6 (0-0 Sun Belt)
  • 2019 Postseason: N/A
  • Head Coach: Brad Stromdahl (2nd season) // Has already led the Panthers to four ranked wins this season.
  • The Panthers’ four ranked wins have been even more impressive considering the fact that they were picked to finish last in the Sun Belt’s east division.
  • Georgia State has already recorded wins over No. 14 West Virginia (two), No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 10 Georgia Tech.
  • Senior catcher Elian Merejo was named to the Sun Belt Preseason All-Conference Team as a designated hitter. He enters this weekend’s series leading the team with three doubles, two homers and nine RBI.
  • Sophomore RHP Ryan Watson is projected to start Friday night’s series opener and has led the Panthers’ pitching staff so far this season with a 1-0 record, 2.70 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 10.0 innings pitched.

GAME PROMOTIONS

Upcoming promotions for all Tennessee athletics home events can be found on the UT Fan Experience page by clicking HERE.

Fans are encouraged to download the My All App for their phones and devices this season. The app is available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store and will allow fans to participate in in-game trivia, the custom filter selfie cam and more throughout the year.

ON DECK

Following this weekend’s series, the Vols travel to Charlotte for a Tuesday midweek game against the 49ers. The game is slated to begin at 4 p.m. ET.

-UT Athletics

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