After losing the first two games of the series, Tennessee manager Tony Vitello tweaked the lineup card for the series finale against the Tigers in hopes of escaping LSU with at least one win. Who knows if it was that tinkering, or something else, but either way, the Vols smacked 17 hits and overcame three fielding errors in the first four innings to beat the Tigers 14-7 and dodge another SEC series sweep.
Notice freshman Dylan Dreiling moved into the two-hole, which shifted Christian Moore to the third spot. Then Jared Dickey at catcher in the clean-up spot and Blake Burke, who came into the series leading the team in numerous offensive categories slid down from third to fifth.
Dreiling’s average had ticked up to .340 after going 2-4 yesterday, while the typical top-four of Ahuna, Moore, Burke and Dickey combined for three hits and one RBI in 11 at bats.
There’s no way to know what made the difference today, but Tennessee’s offense came out firing. The Vols put up 10 runs in the first two innings, with Christian Moore doubling home the game’s first run after a leadoff walk by Maui Ahuna and a single from newly-minted two-hole batter Dylan Dreiling.
Then Blake Burke, who was a combined 1-8 through the first two games of the series, smacked a base hit of his own. Hunter Ensley walked, and Zane Denton walked, which scored Dickey.
Christian Scott sent the sixth and final run of the inning home when he laid down a bunt and induced a throwing error by LSU third baseman Tommy White. Tennessee left the top of the first with six runs on four hits, though it stranded the final two men on bases as the order came back around with Ahuna and Dreiling getting sat down via strikeouts.
Drew Beam got two quick outs in the bottom of the first, but then had to work through some traffic on the bases after Dylan Crews and Tommy White hit back-to-back singles. But he ended the inning with a swinging strikeout.
Hunter Ensley started things out in the second with a one-out, two-run double:
Then Kyle Booker and Christian Scott each added to Tennessee’s lead, when Booker’s double scored Ensley, and Scott’s single scored Booker.
By the bottom of the fourth inning, LSU had added two runs, and Tennessee’s poor defense reared its ugly head again. Beam gave up a leadoff single, then had an easy comebacker that he threw wide to first for the Vols’ third error of the game. LSU plated four runs after Beam hit a batter and surrendered a two-run double to Tre’ Morgan and a Dylan Crews two-run single.
After scoring those 10 runs in the first two innings, the Vols managed just two hits and no runs in innings three-through-five.
Beam got the hook after four innings, and his final line was pretty wild: 4 IP, six runs with just one of those runs being earned. He struck out four, didn’t allow a walk, gave up two doubles and threw 50 of his 80 pitches for strikes.
The Tigers scored at least one run in innings two, three and four, but Tony Vitello brought Zander Sechrist out who managed to hold the Tigers scoreless in the fifth. Sechrist can thank Kyle Booker for this inning-ending throw to third, after Zander had allowed back-to-back, two-out singles.
The Vols stopped the bleeding, for an inning at least, and the offense took advantage. In the top of the sixth, Hunter Ensley hit a two-out single, and Zane Denton followed that up with his seventh home run of the year — a two-run shot over the left-field fence.
Sechrist gave up Tennessee’s first walk of the day in the B6, a one-out BB to Tiger leadoff hitter Gavin Dugas, and then a single to Tre’ Morgan which brought left-handed and .500-plus hitter Dylan Crew to the plate with two on and one out. Vitello replaced Sechrist with veteran, do-everything-guy Camden Sewell out of the bullpen.
Sewell walked Crews, leaving the bases loaded for Tommy White. But Sewell induced a shallow fly ball to left that didn’t allow the runners to advance. Sewell ended the inning on a gnarly, full-count changeup, and the Vols escaped without allowing a run.
Maui Ahuna started the seventh off with a first-pitch, lead-off double, and Dylan Dreiling followed that up with a single and his second hit of the day. Christian Moore lifted a ball to left, and Ahuna made a brilliant, back-door slide at home base to evade the tag and score. The play made for Moore’s third RBI of the day and Tennessee’s 13th run of the game.
Dickey took a 2-2 pitch back up the middle for a run-scoring single, as Dreiling had advanced to second of the play at the plate and to third on a wild pitch to be in position to score on the base hit.
LSU brought in reliever Bryce Collins after Burke’s single, and he got the final two outs of the inning on swinging strikeouts of Hunter Ensley and Zane Denton. Collins throws a mean curve, and neither Tennessee batter could do anything with it. Regardless, the Vols plated two on four hits and stranded two. 14-6 Vols through the top of the seventh.
Sewell led the B7 by giving up a single, a stolen base and two-straight hit batters. He sandwiched a flyout to left field somewhere there in the middle, but either way, Sewell was looking at a bases-loaded jam and the top of the Tigers’ order coming around. Camden got some help from a Kyle Booker diving catch in left for the second out and then got Tre’ Morgan to fly out to left, too, which ended the inning with the bases juiced for the Tigers.
The offense didn’t do much worth noting in the eighth and ninth inning, and Tony Vitello brought in Kirby Connell to start off the bottom of the ninth. Connell got a lead-off groundout before giving up a single on a sharply-hit ball to Moore at second. Connell got the second out of the inning on a fly out, and Vitello brought in righty Aaron Combs, who got the final out of the inning on a pop up in foul territory near third base.
- Tennessee used five pitchers to get the win, and while the dub officially went to Camden Sewell, it was really Zander Sechrist’s scoreless fifth that put a damper on the Tiger run. He ended the day with 1.1 IP, 1 K, 1 BB and three hits allowed. Sewell’s final line: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 3 K, 1 R, despite throwing just 35 of his 61 total pitches for strikes
- Every starter finished with at least one hit, and Kyle Booker, another veteran player I’ve been disappointed with, went 3-5 with two RBIs and a few crucial defensive plays in left field
- The bottom of the lineup had quite the day (while Christian Moore in the third slot and Jared Dickey at cleanup combined for five RBIs) as Burke, Ensley, Denton, Booker and Scott had 10 hits and nine RBIs.