Top-ranked Vols launch six homers in blasting of Belmont

It wasn't a fair fight.

The first-place team in the Southeastern Conference hosted the first-place team in the Ohio Valley Conference on Tuesday night, with Tennessee producing at least one home run in each of the first five innings and rolling to an 18-0 demolishing of Belmont. The top-ranked Volunteers entered their regular-season home finale with a nation-leading 120 homers and increased that total to 126.

"You're always searching for your best combination of being relaxed and being focused," Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said. "As the year goes on, that should get better and better, and I think they kind of unlocked something today."

The Vols improved to 46-7 and will close their regular season Thursday through Saturday at Mississippi State, with Chase Dollander scheduled to start the opener.

Seth Stephenson led Tennessee's homer parade with two, while Drew Gilbert, Luc Lipcius, Jorel Ortega and Christian Moore each went deep once. A Lipcius RBI single put the Vols up 1-0 in the first inning and a Gilbert three-run home run blew the game open before the Bruins (35-18) got to the plate in the second inning.

Stephenson's first homer made it 5-0 in the second, and his second extended Tennessee's advantage to 10-0 in the third.

"They're a (NCAA tournament) regional team with a few pretty good arms, so for us to go out there and do that means a lot to us," Vols third baseman Trey Lipscomb said. "I just think we're in a really good position."

In basketball news, the Vols received a 2023 commitment Tuesday from Tobe Awaka, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound power forward from The Bronx. Awaka, who played for the same New York Lightning AAU team as current Tennessee point guard Zakai Zeigler, has an option to reclassify to the 2022 class if he chooses.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.