Tennessee completed its series sweep of Vanderbilt with a 5-0 win Sunday.
As was the theme for the rest of this trip to Nashville, the Vols’ pitchers were just too much for Vanderbilt’s hitters. Drew Beam was extremely efficient in the win, as he gave up just two hits in his first career complete-game shutout.
This was a relatively quiet game for the offenses. Vanderbilt was stymied by Beam, and while the five runs doesn’t seem too far-off of the typical Volunteer output, the UT bats didn’t really get going until late in the game.
Tennessee took the lead in the fourth off a massive, Drew Gilbert solo home run to deep right field, but that was the only run scored off the long ball today.
Fast forward to the seventh inning, and Christian Scott hit a no-out single to left. Two outs later, Vitello had Scott steal second to get a runner into scoring position. That decision was almost immediately rewarded, as Luc Lipcius drove Scott home with a base hit three pitches later.
Trey Lipscomb hit a single to left in the top of the next inning, and then Jorel Ortega brought him home after an Evan Russell walk.
The ninth inning spurt started the same way: with a base hit. Christian Moore knocked a base hit into right field, and then Luc Lipcius laid down a beautiful bunt down the third-base line for a hit that also advanced Moore into scoring position. Gilbert added his second and third RBIs for the day after doubling into the right-field corner.
Tennessee didn’t really struggle getting hits — the Vols had nine altogether — but it wasn’t a banner day getting those runners home until the last couple frames. In total, the Vols stranded 10 runners, which made Beam’s performance all that more important.
There’s been some chatter of late about what would happen when Blade Tidwell returned from injury. Tennessee’s weekend pitchers have been so good that there’s really no place to put Tidwell, who was a freshman All-American and had the pitching staff’s best earned-run average last year.
Sliding Tidwell into the Sunday slot seemed to make some sense, given that’s where Tidwell pitched last season. But Beam has just tightened the strangle hold he’s got on his spot in the rotation.
Against Vandy, to complete the series sweep, Beam was just masterful. He only struck out four batters, but that was maybe a good thing for his in-game longevity. He needed just 110 pitches to get 28 outs and threw 73 of those pitches for strikes.
I don’t know how many of you watched his first outing this season, but it was against Georgia Southern in the first series of the season. Beam wasn’t terrible, but he walked three batters and lasted just three innings.
He’s got three total walks in six outings since then and hasn’t walked a batter in his last three starts. Here’s his totals in those three starts against SEC opponents: 24 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 13 Ks, 0 BB.
Tennessee’s now 27-1 and 9-0 in SEC play. I don’t know when the last time the Vols started SEC play out three-straight sweeps, but I’d bet it’s been some years. After two-straight away weekend series, the Vols come home for a series against Missouri next weekend and host Alabama the weekend after that.