KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Sports) — Tennessee completed a season-opening sweep for the second straight year Sunday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, taking the series finale from Western Illinois, 23-4.
For the second straight game, Tennessee (3-0) produced double-digit hits and runs. The Vols' 19 hits are the most in a single game since 2016. Sunday's 23-run outing coupled with Saturday's 19-run day also gave the Big Orange back-to-back games of 15 or more runs for the first time since 2010.
Thirteen Tennessee players recorded hits, while six different Vols had multiple hits.
Junior right-hander Jackson Leath earned the win for Tennessee in his dominant first-career start, going 4.1 innings and striking out 12 batters while allowing just two hits.
At the plate, Luc Lipcius and Max Ferguson got things going early for the Vols. Lipcius began Tennessee's eight-run second inning by doubling to left center and driving in two runs. The redshirt junior finished the afternoon 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
Ferguson, who also went 2-for-3 from the plate, followed up Lipcius' double in the second with an RBI single. An inning later in the third, Ferguson blasted his first-career home run, a solo shot to right field.
Jake Rucker (2-for-2) and Zach Daniels (2-for-3) also contributed to Tennessee's hot offensive start, each producing two-run doubles in the second inning.
With Sunday's eight-run second inning and seven-run seventh, the Vols have now scored six or more runs in four innings over the course of the last two games.
Western Illinois (0-3) starting pitcher Jack Carberry made it through just 1.2 innings before being pulled due to Tennessee's hot second inning. The Leathernecks used five pitchers, all of whom surrendered multiple runs.
After Leath left the game, Redmond Walsh, Will Mabrey, Christian Delashmit, Kody Davidson and Mark McLaughlin combined to finish the contest, allowing a total of three hits and striking out four batters.
Tennessee is back in action on Tuesday for a mid-week matchup with Charlotte. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. at Lindsey Nelson Stadium and the game will be streamed on WatchESPN.
Sunday's win marked the second straight season in which Tennessee has opened the season with a series sweep. Last season, the Vols took the opening three games of the season against Appalachian State.
Take a Seat
The Vols' pitching staff racked up 16 strikeouts on Sunday, 12 of which came from junior starter Jackson Leath. Of the 13 batters Leath retired, 12 were via strikeout.
Bats Showing Up Early
Over the course of the three-game series against the Leathernecks, Tennessee produced a total of 45 runs. That marks the most runs scored by a Tennessee team over the course of a three-game series since a May 11-13, 2005 series against Radford.
Knight Goes Back-to-Back
Sophomore Austin Knight blasted a three-run home run to left field in the eighth inning, giving him his second homer in as many days. With Ferguson's home run in the second inning, the Vols have hit multiple home runs in every game this season.