Vols dominate Gamecocks in game two to clinch series
Tennessee won its first SEC series of the year on Saturday. The Vols look to go for a sweep of South Carolina on Sunday.
Following Friday’s dominant game one win, the Vols had to treat Saturday like a completely new day. They did just that, and No. 7 Tennessee (18-1, 2-0 SEC) defeated South Carolina (10-8, 0-2 SEC) 5-2 on Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Tennessee picked up where it left off quickly. Fifth-year senior first baseman Luc Lipcius, who got bumped up to second in the lineup, put Tennessee in front in the first inning with a home run to left field. The ball left his bat at 110 mph, and he needed every bit of it with the wind gusting in from left field. Lipcius hit sixth in Friday’s lineup, but got moved just before first pitch on Saturday.
“We didn’t have the lineup set until after batting practice, and he was pretty keyed in today. He’s been in that spot before,” coach Tony Vitello said. “The guy’s stronger than an ox, so to get it through the wind like he did, it takes a little bit of strength. Fortunately, he did it early, because to get out to an early lead was key for us today.”
Lipcius was not alone on the offense. Junior outfielder Jordan Beck went 3-for-4 with a homer and sophomore second baseman Jorel Ortega was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Beck’s home run was his first extra base hit since March 6. His previous 10 hits were all singles.
“It felt pretty good, honestly (to finally get another extra base hit). I just got the right pitch that I was sitting on that at bat and put a good swing on it,” Beck said. “Singles are fun, too. I just like getting on base.”
Starting pitcher Chase Dollander had big shoes to fill after the performance of Chase Burns on Friday. Dollander answered the call, earning the win and throwing five innings with one earned run. He struck out seven Gamecock batters.
South Carolina had some traffic on the bases throughout most of Dollander’s five innings. Dollander threw 81 pitches in four innings and ended his start with 99. A lot of those were high-stress pitches with runners in scoring position, but only one scored.
“It’s a huge mental win,” he said. “They got in scoring position, but I just put my head down and grinded like I’m taught to do. I was happy I was able to do it.”
Will Mabrey threw three strong innings in relief, and super senior Redmond Walsh pitched the ninth inning to earn the save. Walsh now has 18 career saves, tying him with Sean Watson. Todd Helton holds the program record with 23.
With the win, Tennessee took the series from South Carolina. The Vols will look for a sweep tomorrow. They have swept every weekend series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium this year.
“(The players) need to manage their time the right way, and then wake up tomorrow hungry. I think if they do those things, it’ll show in pregame,” Vitello said. “I’m a big believer of ‘if the leading up part is good, then the game part will be fine’.”
Game three of the series between Tennessee and South Carolina is on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.