No. 1 Tennessee (finally) took care of business on Thursday night in Hoover to open their SEC Tournament. The Volunteers smacked in-state rival Vanderbilt 9-1 after a hot offensive start.
When the rain finally cleared in Hoover, Drew Gilbert got Tennessee started with an RBI double in the first, and the rest of the offense showed up in the third.
Jorel Ortega doubled to drive in a run, and then Gilbert pushed in Ortega from second. Evan Russell kept the rally going with another double down the line. Luc Lipcius’ sac fly brought us to a 5-0 score, and Christian Moore capped off a five-run third inning with an RBI single.
Vanderbilt starter Devin Futrell was replaced after just 2.1 innings, and Tennessee was in firm control in the early stages with a 6-0 lead. Tennessee starter Blade Tidwell walked three batters through four innings, but the Commodores weren’t able to muster any offense off of those opportunities.
With runners on the corners in the fourth, Trey Lipscomb joined the RBI party with a bloop to make it a 7-0 game.
Carter Young finally got Vanderbilt going in the fifth with a solo home run. Pinch hitter Blake Burke came up with an immediate answer shortly after, hitting a solo shot of his own.
Kirby Connell took over for Tidwell from there, who threw 76 pitches on the night.
Cortland Lawson added another run in the bottom of the seventh with a solo shot, rubbing some salt in the wound. Tennessee added one more to make it 10-1 heading into the ninth inning.
Camden Sewell, Will Mabrey and Ben Joyce shut things down to close out the night.
Tennessee moves on in the double elimination portion of the tournament, set to face the LSU vs. Kentucky winner. That game is scheduled to close out the night on Friday.