April 24, 2024

Vols put up complete performance to take series against Alabama

Tennessee took care of business in its first series-deciding Sunday game of the year. Offense and pitching led the charge for the Vols, who still command their lead in the SEC East.

It was all smiles as the Vols took the series against Alabama on Sunday. Tennessee lost its first SEC game of the year on Friday, but has yet to lose a series. Photo courtesy @vol_baseball twitter

The ball was flying out of Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Sunday. No. 1 Tennessee (33-3, 14-1 SEC) beat No. 24 Alabama (23-14, 8-7 SEC) 15-4 in game three to take the series. Both teams combined to hit seven home runs.

Tennessee had a lot more baserunners than Alabama throughout the game. All of the Crimson Tide’s home runs were solo shots. Tennessee’s pitching keeping hitters off the bases was the key to limiting the damage.

“Solo bombs don’t beat you,” starting pitcher Drew Beam said. “That’s proof pretty well so far. No walks and getting guys out quickly has been a key to our success.”

Alabama’s pitching staff struggled to retire Tennessee hitters with two outs. The Vols went 7-for-13 as a team with two outs. They scored 10 of their 15 runs with two outs.

“We preach a lot about two outs and extending the inning as much as we can,” second baseman Jorel Ortega said. “Just be a tough out and grinding at bats out.”

The big blows came from Ortega and Trey Lipscomb. Ortega went 4-for-5 on Sunday. He finished the weekend going 8-for-12 with five RBIs and five runs scored. Ortega was bumped up to the two spot in the lineup on Saturday and Sunday after hitting eighth on Friday.

Lipscomb had a loud day at the plate as well. He went 3-for-5, including hitting home runs in the fifth and sixth innings. His three-run homer in the sixth put the game out of reach for Alabama.

“The whole weekend I wasn’t having my best swings but I was having good swings,” Lipscomb said. “(Today) was just knowing what I can do, and it was pretty cool to see.”

Lipscomb has been an anchor in Tennessee’s lineup all year. The senior is now hitting .370 with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs. His 15 home runs are tied for the most in the SEC.

Beam (8-0, 1.50 ERA) dazzled again for Tennessee. He threw 6.2 innings, allowing four hits and three earned runs, which all came on Alabama solo home runs. The freshman fanned a career-high 10 batters with no walks.

“(He’s) just unphased. That’s what he does. He throws strikes, he fills it up with really good stuff,” coach Josh Elander said. “I think he was really good again.”

Elander filled in as head coach on Sunday. Head coach Tony Vitello and pitching coach Frank Anderson were both ejected for arguing with umpires during Saturday’s game.

Anderson received a one-game suspension (assistant coaches are automatically suspended a game if ejected), and Vitello was given a four-game suspension for making contact with an umpire after he was ejected.

The Vols have won two straight games after losing two in a row for the first time this season. On Saturday and Sunday, they were faced with potentially losing their first SEC series of the year. They outscored Alabama 24-6 over games two and three of the series.

“It was a lot of adversity after the first game on Friday,” Ortega said. “We trust each other. We can hit, we can pitch, so any situation you throw at us we’re not really worried.”

Tennessee hosts Bellarmine at home on Tuesday before traveling to Gainesville, Florida to face Florida on April 22-24.

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