Jordan Beck was apart of three runs in three different ways in the first two innings, and that ended up being all Tennessee baseball needed to defeat the LSU Tigers Friday night in the SEC Tournament. The No. 1 seed Vols are now headed to the semifinals of the event.
Tony Vitello’s team, ranked No. 1 across the board, improves to 51-7 on the year. They received a scare when No. 4 seed LSU, ranked anywhere from No. 15 to No. 21 depending on the service you use, cut it to 3-2 with two runs in the fifth. However, they scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to hold on.
Led by first-year head coach Jay Johnson, LSU falls to 38-19 and will face the No. 12 seed Kentucky Wildcats, who beat the Vanderbilt Commodores 10-2 Friday. The winner of that game faces UT in a rematch in the semifinals. Here are three things we learned from Tennessee baseball’s win Friday.
1. Mistakes by both teams made this interesting.
It all started with Beck in the first inning. He drove in Luc Lipcius on a triple, but then he advanced to score on a wild pitch. Then, in the second inning, he was walked with the bases loaded, which is what drove in Evan Russell to give the Vols a 3-0 lead. Those bases were loaded because of an error that got Cortland Lawson on.
Rocky Top was no better, though. After a double by Dylan Crews sent Drew Bianco to third, Bianco was able to score off a throwing error by Seth Stephenson. In that same inning, Crews then scored thanks to a throwing error by Lawson that allowed Josh Pearson to reach first with two outs. It made for an ugly outing.
2. Pitching was superb across the board.
Chase Dollander got the start and only allowed one earned run, and both runs scored on him were due to errors. Through six and two-thirds innings, he was able to strike out nine. Kirby Connell got the Vols out of the top of the seventh after Mark McLaughlin came in and allowed a hit.
Then in came Redmond Walsh. He pitched the final two innings with Tennessee baseball clinging to that 5-2 lead, and he allowed one hit and one walk with no runs while striking out one to get the save. It was a clutch performance that followed an elite game from Dollander.
3. Manufacturing runs continues in tournament play.
For the second straight game, despite the Vols being a power team all year, they relied on small-ball to score. There were no home runs in this one. Beck scoring on an error and walking in for a run is already one of the stories. However, the bottom of the fifth is another.
Lipcius stole second after a single. That allowed him to score off a Drew Gilbert single with one out. As a result, three runs were manufactured. Power still helped without home runs, as Beck had a triple to drive in Lipcius in the first, and Jorel Ortega had a double to drive in Gilbert in the fifth, but Tennessee baseball truly did manufacture runs.