Andrew Lindsey powers Vols to seventh straight NCAA baseball regional victory

Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee pitcher Andrew Lindsey allowed one run in seven innings as the Volunteers dominated Charlotte 8-1 Friday night in the Clemson Regional of the NCAA tournament.

Andrew Lindsey was the big story leading into Tennessee's NCAA baseball tournament opener Friday night against Charlotte in the Clemson Regional.

Lindsey was the big story against the 49ers, too.

After pitching for Charlotte during the 2021 season before taking last year off and transferring, the 6-foot-3, 216-pound junior from New Johnsonville, Tennessee, dominated his former team. Lindsey racked up 10 strikeouts and allowed just five hits in seven innings, pacing the second-seeded Volunteers (39-19) to an 8-1 thumping of the third-seeded 49ers (34-27) and into a Saturday 6 p.m. pairing with top-seeded Clemson (44-17).

"It think it was just business as usual," Lindsey said afterward in a news conference. "It's the postseason, so it's about playing ball no matter who we get. When they popped up, it was just another team to go out and beat."

Lindsey needed 10 pitches in the third inning and 11 in the fourth, and his scoreless performance was ended by Austin Knight's seventh-inning home run to right field. Knight played for Tennessee during the 2019 and 2020 seasons before transferring to Charlotte.

The Vols have now won seven consecutive NCAA regional games dating to the 2021 postseason and have won six straight contests in which Lindsey has started.

"We came out of the gates on offense to help him," Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said, "but really this revolved around his start."

Maui Ahuna drew a leadoff walk for the Vols in the bottom of the first inning, but Hunter Ensley then flied out to right field and Jared Dickey flied to left. A Griffin Merritt single to right-center put runners on the corners, and Christian Moore followed with a double to right-center to score Ahuna and Merritt for the game's first runs.

Tennessee extended its advantage to 4-0 in the second inning on an Ahuna single up the middle that scored Christian Scott and a Dickey single to right that brought in Cal Stark. A home run to right-center by Moore in the third inning made it 5-0, which marked the end of the night for 49ers lefty starter Collin Kramer.

The Vols put the game away in the fourth when two-out singles by Ensley and Dickey were followed by Merritt's three-run homer to left. Dickey and Merritt each had three hits, while Ahuna and Moore each tallied two.

"This was definitely exciting," said Merritt, who is in his first season with the Vols after transferring from Cincinnati. "It's been four years since I've been in one of these. I'm getting old, but I'm happy to be here and happy to be playing right now.

"It was nice to see the offense come alive and get behind Andrew, and he gave us a great start."

Chase Dollander will get the start for the Vols against Clemson, which opened Friday's action by breaking free from Lipscomb 12-5 for its 17th consecutive win. The Tigers are the NCAA tournament's No. 4 overall seed.

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