Chase Dollander tossed 6.2 innings, gave up one earned run and struck out nine, while Jordan Beck, Drew Gilbert and Jorel Ortega each notched RBIs as the Vols beat LSU 5-2 in their second game of the SEC Tournament.
As they’re apt to do, the Vol bats jumped on LSU starter Ty Floyd early. After Seth Stephenson popped up for the first out, Luc Lipcius walked and Beck drove him home when he hammered a triple into the rightfield wall.
Stephenson and Jared Dickey have held down the leadoff spot well this year — both hit for average and get on base, while Stephenson’s speed is constant threat on the base paths — but Lipcius batting second against righties has given Beck, Drew Gilbert and Trey Lipscomb RBI opportunities with his discerning eye. He’s top-five-ish in SEC play for total walks, and his first one today led to UT’s first run of the ball game.
Tennessee added one more in the first, when Beck scored on a wild pitch on the first pitch to Gilbert.
In the second, the Vols loaded the bases, pushed one across off a Beck walk and ended up stranding all three runners after Gilbert popped up for an out three pitches later.
The three runs in the first two innings were enough support for Dollander. He struck out the side in the first, two of which came on perfectly located fast balls. He worked around a bit of traffic in the second and third unscathed. Peep this catch from Beck in the second that snuffed out at least one and maybe two runs:
In the fifth, though, a Dollander walk to the bottom hitter in the Tiger lineup, Drew Bianco, kicked off a bit of trouble.
A Dylan Crews double was then bobbled by both Stephenson on the catch and by Cortland Lawson on the cut off, which allowed Bianco to score. Then on the next play, Josh Pearson hit a laser to Lawson who had trouble fielding it and then got charged with an error when he fired it past Lipcius trying to get Pearson at first, which brought home Crews.
Dollander plugged the leak there and got the next two outs on four pitches.
Lipcius singled, stole second and scored off a Gilbert single in the bottom half of the fifth, which set the table for an Ortega double blasted down the leftfield line.
These two runs made it a 5-2, and that’s where the scoring for both teams ended.
LSU pulled Floyd after the Ortega knock, and veteran pitcher Trent Vietmeier threw 3.1 innings of perfect ball in relief. He struck out three and threw 25 of his 34 pitches for strikes.
Vitello went to Redmond Walsh in the eighth inning and had him finish the game, which has been the formula here in the latter part of the season. Walsh gave up a hit in the eighth and a walk in the ninth but didn’t surrender a run. This was Red’s seventh save of the season and 23rd of his career, which ties him for the UT all-time record with Todd Helton.
Tennessee will play the last game of tomorrow’s slate, against the winner of the LSU/ Kentucky game. The Vols are now 6-0 against LSU in the past two seasons.
Arkansas and Vanderbilt have both been eliminated from the SEC Tournament.