KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Another dominant pitching performance and a three-run first inning led Tennessee to a 5-1 victory over Indiana in Friday's series opener at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Vols continued their winning ways to improve to 5-0, their best record to start a season since 2014 when the team won its first 12 games.
UT's pitching staff has been simply unbelievable so far this year, limiting their opponents to just one run in 45 total innings pitched. Junior pitcher Garrett Stallings followed up last week's impressive performance with another gem on Friday night.
Stallings tossed seven innings while allowing one run on five hits. The right hander from Chesapeake, Va., also set a new career high in strikeouts for the second consecutive start, punching out nine Hoosiers on the day.
After struggling to find consistent offense in their opening series against Appalachian State last weekend, the Vols came out swinging on Friday, tagging Indiana ace Pauly Milto for three runs on four hits in the bottom of the first inning.
A throwing error allowed Tennessee's first run to score before back-to-back RBI doubles by Evan Russell and Landon Gray extended the Vols' advantage to three in the blink of an eye.
Russell had another huge night at the plate, finishing 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two runs, and two RBI. Andre Lipcius broke out of his early-season slump with two hits on the day while also scoring two runs.
Milto was able to settle in after the rough first inning and held the Vols without a run for the next five innings before being relieved by Grant Sloan. The senior right hander finished the game with nine strikeouts in six innings of work but was stuck with the loss, falling to 1-1 on the year.
The Hoosiers, an NCAA regional team in 2018, were able to get on the board in the sixth thanks to a leadoff solo home run from Logan Kaletha that cut the Tennessee lead to 3-1. It was the first run the Vols had surrendered all season and ended their shutout streak to start the season at a staggering 41.0 innings.
The Big Orange added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to increase the lead to four and give redshirt sophomore lefty Redmond Walshall the cushion he needed to close the game out. Walsh pitched the final two innings, retiring all six batters he faced to earn his first-career save.
SHUTOUT STREAK ENDS: After 41.0 consecutive scoreless innings, Tennessee finally allowed a run on Friday night by giving up a solo home run with no outs in the top of the sixth inning. Dating back to last season, the Vols went 42.2 straight innings without allowing a run.
SEEING BEACH BALLS: Evan Russell continues to crush baseballs for UT. The sophomore outfielder had another multi-hit day, going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI in Friday's win over the Hoosiers. The Lexington, Tenn., native leads the team in basically every offensive category and boasts an incredible 1.214 slugging percentage.
UP NEXT: Tennessee and Indiana square off for Game Two of the weekend series on Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at AllVols.com and the Lindsey Nelson Stadium ticket office.