CLEMSON, S.C. – Tennessee came out swinging to build a big early lead and cruised from there to open its NCAA tournament run with a convincing 8-1 victory over Charlotte on Friday evening at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina.
The Volunteers scored in each of the first four innings to race out to an 8-0 lead over the 49ers. After Andrew Lindsey stranded the bases loaded with a strikeout to end the top of the first, Christian Moore got the scoring started with a clutch two-run double to the gap in right center with two outs.
The Brooklyn, New York, native, provided a major spark for the Big Orange, reaching base three times and finishing 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs.
Lindsey picked right up where he left off at South Carolina two weekends ago, tossing yet another gem on Friday night. The junior right hander pitched seven strong innings to earn the win, allowing just one run on five hits while tying a career-high with 10 strikeouts.
The Big Orange added two more runs in the second on a pair of RBI singles from Maui Ahuna and Jared Dickey before Moore led off the third with an opposite field home run to extend the lead to 5-0.
Tennessee continued to pour it on in the fourth when Griffin Merritt launched his team-leading 18th homer of the year off the roof of the left field grandstands, plating three more runs for the Vols. The graduate transfer also had an impressive showing, going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and three RBIs.
UT’s 3-4-5 hitters of Dickey, Merritt and Moore all had multi-hit efforts and combined for eight of the team’s 11 knocks while driving in seven runs for the Vols.
Zander Sechrist, Aaron Combs, Kirby Connell and Hollis Fanning combined for two scoreless innings out of the bullpen to finish the game.
Former Vol Austin Knight provided the lone run for Charlotte (34-27) with a two-out solo home run that just cleared the right-field wall in the top of the seventh. Knight led the 49ers with a pair of hits on the day.
UP NEXT: Tennessee (39-19) will take on regional host and No. 4 national seed Clemson in the winner’s bracket game on Saturday at 6 p.m. after the Tigers pulled away late in their contest against Lipscomb earlier in the day for a 12-5 victory.
The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the regional final and be just one win away from moving on to an NCAA Super Regional next weekend.