Ninth-inning errors almost cost Tennessee baseball the SEC Tournament Championship

Texas A&M v Tennessee
Texas A&M v Tennessee / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

Tennessee baseball secured the SEC baseball crown on Sunday with its 4-1 victory over the reigning National Champion LSU Tigers. It wasn’t before two ninth-inning errors gave LSU some life after only getting three hits through the first eight and one-third innings.

The Tigers came into Sunday’s game undefeated throughout the SEC Tournament. The No. 11 Tigers created plenty of drama throughout the week and didn’t leave the championship game without adding more drama in the title game. LSU had to go through Georgia, Kentucky, and South Carolina twice to earn a spot in the title game, but their luck ran out against the Vols, but not before two ninth-inning errors. 

LSU opened the game with a first-inning 470-foot home run from Jared Jones, which essentially ended AJ Russell’s day, who only pitched one inning. Dylan Loy came in relief, pitched a flawless four and two-thirds innings, and allowed the bats to get ahead of the Tigers. 

Tennessee responded to LSU’s first-inning homer in the third inning to take the lead after a Christian Moore single, Blake Burke walk, and a three-run home run by Billy Amick. 

Kirby Connell relieved Andrew Behnke in the sixth inning with two outs after he walked back-to-back batters. Connell got the Vols out of the bases-loaded jam and pitched two and two-thirds innings, holding onto the lead for the Vols to the bottom of the ninth.

The Vols didn’t do much hitting besides Hunter Ensley, who went 4-for-4 at the plate. Moore, Burke, and Amick were the only other Vols to collect a hit in Sunday’s game.

A fly ball to Kavares Tears in right field fell out of his glove, resulting in a double and ending Connell’s day with one out in the ninth. Tony Vitello tagged Aaron Combs for closing duties. He faced immediate trouble against Steven Milam, who hit a rocket to right field, landing just over Tears and bouncing over the fence. Mac Bingham followed that with a double down the third base line and a Billy Amick error to make it a one-run game. 

Tennessee also secured the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and will host regionals next weekend and super regionals if they advance. This gives the Vols a clear and viable path to Omaha for a spot in the College World Series. Tennessee’s opponents will be announced at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, May 27, on ESPN2, and the path to Omaha will officially be set.