Top-ranked LSU defeated No.1 0 Tennessee 6-4 to win its first series over the Volunteers since 2018.
After falling behind 4-3 after a two-run home run hit by Tennessee third baseman Zane Denton, catcher Brady Neal and second baseman Gavin Dugas hit back-to-back home runs to seal the victory for the Tigers.
Dylan Crews extended his hitting streak as he singled in the bottom of the eighth inning to extend his hit streak to 25 games.
“I’m really proud of the team tonight in every phase of the game,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “I think our offense did a tremendous job against a great pitcher in (UT starter) Chase Burns. That was a high-level offensive performance, getting 12 hits and six runs on the board against some excellent arms.”
LSU starting pitcher Ty Floyd (5-0) was credited with the win. Floyd finished with six hits, four earned runs, and five strikeouts through five innings.
True freshmen Chase Shores and Griffin Herring came in relief and were huge in the final four innings, allowing no hits and striking out six batters combined. Herring picked up the first save of his collegiate career.
Tennessee starting pitcher Chase Burns (2-2) was charged with his second loss of the year. Burns allowed five runs on seven hits and struck out seven batters through 3.1 innings.
Tennessee got on the board first when Maui Ahuna blasted a solo home run over the center field wall to give the Volunteers an early 1-0.
However, LSU would respond rapidly as they would score three runs later in the inning to take the lead. LSU would get three straight RBI doubles from Tre Morgan, Cade Beloso and Josh Pearson to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead at the end of the first inning.
In the second inning, Tennessee would prove again why they are one of the most dangerous teams at the plate. Hunter Ensley would send a solo home run to left field to cut into LSU’s lead to now make the score 3-2. Ensley’s home run was his second of the year.
After a scoreless third inning, Denton’s two-run home run would put Tennessee back in the lead by one run. Denton’s home run was his sixth of the year and Tennessee’s third home run of the night.
Although it looked like Tennessee was starting to gain momentum and Burns was striking LSU’s batters one by one, LSU was not ready to die. Neal and Dugas would hit back-to-back home runs to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead at the end of the fourth inning. Neal now has three home runs this season while Dugas collected his ninth home run of the year.
In the sixth inning, Shores would come in for Floyd and struggled early on, allowing two singles with one out. However, after a mound visit, Shores composed himself and sat the next two batters to retire the side. Both of those at-bats were with runners in scoring position.
Later in the inning, Dugas doubled and would later advance to third base on a groundout. With Dugas on third and Crews on first after being hit by a pitch, White would send a sac fly to right field, allowing Dugas to score at home to barely beat out the throw from Tennessee right fielder Christian Scott.
Shores and Herring, who are roommates, would not allow a single hit for the rest of the game as they combined for six strikeouts to seal the win in one of the most intimidating spots for a pitcher, especially for true freshmen.
“Chase and Griffin are two future Major League pitchers,” Johnson said. “I think their poise really stands out to me, because you know they’re talented. In that environment, to slow the game down and execute like that shows a lot about both of them.”
LSU improves its overall record to 24-3 and its conference record to 6-2, while Tennessee falls to 20-8 overall and 3-5 in conference play.
LSU will have a chance to sweep Tennessee on Saturday, March 31 at 1 p.m. CT at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. The game will not be televised but will be streamed on SEC Network+.