June 18, 2021

No. 12 Tennessee sweeps No. 22 LSU in SEC home opener

Tennessee won its second consecutive series to open up SEC play. The Vols now have a 5-1 record in the SEC, which is their best start since 2001.

Tennessee shortstop Liam Spence celebrates with his teammates during a game two victory against LSU. (Tennessee Athletics)

No. 12 Tennessee (21-4, 5-1 SEC) played host to No. 22 LSU (16-8, 1-5 SEC) in its second SEC series of the season. The Vols walked off in two of three games and swept the Tigers. They are tied with Vanderbilt and Kentucky for first place in the SEC East.

Dallas’ Dominance

In game one of the series, Tennessee threw out junior pitcher Chad Dallas to the mound. His stellar performance propelled the Vols to a 3-1 victory on Friday.

Dallas struck out 11 batters in his seven innings of work, which tied a career-high. He only allowed one earned run while scattering five hits. The Vols’ ace moved to 4-0 on the season with the win.

A couple of timely extra-base hits gave Tennessee the only offense the team would need on Friday. Third baseman Jake Rucker hit an RBI triple to tie the game up in the third inning. He would then score on a wild pitch in the same inning to give the Vols the lead. Center fielder Drew Gilbert gave Tennessee some insurance with an RBI double in the seventh inning.

Senior Sean Hunley would earn his second save of the season, recording the final six outs for Tennessee. He did not allow a hit to LSU and lowered his ERA to 1.93.

Home runs power Vols

Both teams’ offenses came to life in game two of the series, which Tennessee won 9-8 in 11 innings. Tennessee and LSU combined for 13 extra-base hits in the game, including seven homers.

Senior left fielder Evan Russell hit three home runs on Saturday, tying Tennessee’s single-game record. Russell was the first Vol to accomplish this since Cody Hawn in 2009.

Tennessee controlled the game with a 7-3 lead after six innings, but LSU struck back to take the lead. The Tigers scored five combined runs in the seventh and eighth to lead 8-7 going into the top of the ninth inning. The game was then postponed until Sunday due to heavy rain and lightning in the area.

Drew Gilbert played hero when the game picked up on Sunday. He tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a double, then walked it off for the Vols in the 11th inning with a home run, his sixth of the season.

With the win, Tennessee took its second consecutive SEC series to begin conference play.

Walking off again

The Vols completed the sweep of LSU on Sunday with a 3-2 win in extra innings. The game was shortened to seven innings because of the extra innings in game two. First baseman Luc Lipcius walked it off with a single in the eighth.

Freshman pitcher Blade Tidwell continued his good work on the mound for Tennessee. He struck out seven batters while allowing two runs in 5.2 innings. His 1.91 ERA is the team’s best.

Sean Hunley capped off his impressive weekend in game three. He earned the win, throwing 2.1 shutout innings while only allowing one hit. He threw in all three games of the series for the Vols and recorded two wins and a save.

Lipcius’ hit was the second walk-off hit of the day for Tennessee and the Vols’ fourth walk-off victory of the season.

This weekend marks the first series sweep over LSU since 2008.

 

Edited by Christian Knox and Ryan Sylvia

Featured image courtesy of UT Athletics

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