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WEEKEND GAMETHREAD: Baseball @ #9 Tennessee

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Syndication: Knoxville Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel

It was a relatively quiet week for LSU baseball with the Tulane midweek game rained out and not to be rescheduled this year, but Paul Mainieri did announce a change in the rotation. Marceaux and Hill are swapping Friday and Saturday. Mainieri said the move was to both give Hill a little extra rest after a 106 pitch outing and to setup an altered rotation for next weekend’s Thur-Fri-Sat series against Vandy.

The #9 Tennessee Volunteers (18-4, 2-1) are on a hot start, winning 7 or their last 8 including a road series victory over top ten UGA. The Vols will be without Preseason All-American Ace RHP Jackson Leath in their rotation. Leath suffered a hamstring injury in his 2nd start of the year, though the Vols have recovered their rotation since then. Their bullpen is also very formidable. Tennessee may not be considered a traditional power in the current era of SEC juggernauts, but if LSU overlooks these Top 10 Vols worrying about Vandy next weekend, they will pay the price for it.

If the weather holds anyway, current forecasts predict a dismal weekend on Rocky Top.

From LSU and Tennessee PR:

Fast Starts The Vols have made a habit of getting off to fast starts this season. Through 22 games, the Tennessee has scored in the first or second inning 15 times and has posted a 14-1 record when doing so. After scoring three times in the first inning on Tuesday vs. EKU, Tennessee has scored in the opening frame in four straight games entering this weekend’s series. The Vols’ eight first-inning runs against Arkansas Pine Bluff on Feb. 24 were the most in a first inning during Tony Vitello’s tenure as head coach. Tennessee is outscoring its opponents 25-3 in the first inning of games this season.

Tidwell Wows in SEC Debut True freshman Blade Tidwell made one heck of a statement in his SEC debut last Sunday afternoon. The Loretto, Tennessee, native put forth a dominant performance in Tennessee’s 4-1 victory in Sunday’s rubber game at Georgia. Tidwell gave up just one run on four hits while striking out six batters in a career-high 7.1 innings pitched and was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts. He is scheduled to start in this Sunday’s series finale.

Opening SEC Play on a High Note UT opened SEC play with a series win at Georgia last weekend, marking the first time the Vols have won their opening series in conference play since 2014. It was also Tennessee’s first series win in Athens since 2016. Tennessee will look to build off that momentum this weekend against LSU, a program it has not won a series against since 2009.

Spence Continues to Rake Senior shortstop Liam Spence is coming off another impressive week at the plate, leading the Vols with seven hits and two doubles in four games. In UT’s series at Georgia, Spence hit a team-high .429 while scoring five times and driving in four runs. The Australia native opened the series with a leadoff home run on Friday and reached base in all four games last week. With a single and two walks in Tuesday’s midweek win over Eastern Kentucky, Spence extended his on-base streak to 25 games.

• Tennessee is No. 11 in the SEC in hitting with a .268 team batting average … the Vols have collected 38 doubles, eight triples, 22 homers and 25 stolen bases.

• The Volunteers pitching staff is No. 6 in the SEC in team ERA (3.16) … the staff is limiting opponents to a .230 batting average and has allowed 18 home runs.

• Tennessee is led at the plate by infielder Liam Spence, who is hitting .381 with six doubles, two triples, two homers, and 18 RBI … Spence leads the SEC in base hits with 32 … infielder Jake Rucker is batting .338 with two doubles, one triple, three homers and 22 RBI, and outfielder Drew Gilbert is batting .329 with three doubles, five homers and 22 RBI.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1 - Friday, 5:30pm, SECN+

LSU – Jr. RH Landon Marceaux (2-1, 0.00 ERA, 30.0 IP, 6 BB, 35 SO)

UT – Jr. RH Chad Dallas (3-0, 4.70 ERA, 23.0 IP, 6 BB, 32 SO)

Game 2 - Saturday, 5pm, SECN+

LSU – Jr. RH Jaden Hill (2-2, 5.18 ERA, 24.1 IP, 6 BB, 17 SO)

UT – Sr. LH Will Heflin (2-1, 4.22 ERA, 21.1 IP, 4 BB, 24 SO)

Game 3 - Sunday, Noon, SECN+

LSU – Jr. RH AJ Labas (1-0, 3.08 ERA, 26.1 IP, 4 BB, 30 SO)

UT – Fr. RH Blade Tidwell (3-0, 1.65 ERA, 27.1 IP, 7 BB, 27 SO)

Weather

Top 25 and SEC In Action

Rank Team Opponent
Rank Team Opponent
1 Vanderbilt at Missouri
2 Mississippi State vs. No. 3 Arkansas
3 Arkansas at No. 2 Mississippi State
4 Florida at South Carolina
5 Ole Miss at Alabama
6 Louisville at No. 14 Notre Dame
7 Texas Tech vs. USF
8 East Carolina at Elon
9 Indiana at Michigan State
10 Texas vs. Oklahoma
11 Georgia Tech vs. Duke
12 Michigan at Penn State
13 Oregon at No. 25 Arizona
14 Notre Dame vs. No. 6 Louisville
15 Tennessee vs. No. 18 LSU
16 UCLA at USC
17 Pittsburgh vs. Virginia Tech
18 LSU at No. 15 Tennessee
19 Florida State vs. Wake Forest
20 TCU vs. Baylor
21 Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss
22 North Carolina vs. North Carolina State
23 Indiana State at Saint Louis
24 Miami at Virginia
25 Arizona vs. No. 13 Oregon
Kentucky at Auburn
Georgia at Texas A&M