Tennessee makes SEC baseball history with first league start 12-0

They’re running out of brooms in Knoxville.

Tennessee notched its fourth Southeastern Conference sweep in four occasions on Sunday afternoon by beating Missouri 4-3 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium for a 23rd consecutive triumph. The No. 1 Volunteers improved to 31-1 overall and 12-0 in conference, becoming the first SEC baseball team to win its first 12 league games.

Saturday night’s 11-4 victory by Tennessee gave the SEC an 11-0 start that tied Alabama in 1940, Ole Miss in 1964 and LSU in 1991.

“We’ll see where this all goes at the end of the year and we’ll buy the guys a t-shirt or something,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello told reporters late Saturday night. “At this point, what does that mean? It’s kind of a group that boils down to, ‘What happens the next day for me?

“I kind of molded myself into their personality, and that’s really all that matters.”

Sunday’s decision was the closest to the weekend but also the only one the Vols have taken to a close. Sixth-year senior first baseman Luc Lipcius homered twice and junior center fielder Drew Gilbert had a fifth-inning RBI brace that gave Tennessee a 4-0 lead, but the Tigers scored twice in seventh and made it a one-point game. in the ninth before Redmond Walsh landed his fifth save.

The sixth-year senior now has 21 career saves, two behind Todd Helton for the most in program history.

“Me and Luc were actually talking about that, because our first year here, we won seven in the SEC,” Walsh said Sunday. “It’s amazing how this program has changed. We used to celebrate winning one game, and now taking three is the norm.”

Says Lipcius: “People haven’t really liked us since we got good. They’re used to us being the people who would lay down for you. Now that we’re here, it’s ruffling some feathers.”

Tennessee trailed 3-2 entering the seventh inning of Friday night’s 8-3 victory and trailed 4-3 entering the sixth inning on Saturday, when the junior right fielder’s grand slam Jordan Beck unleashed an 8-0 surge to close out this contest. The Vols entered this series without trailing after a full run in over a month.

“We’re just resilient,” Beck said on Saturday. “We’re a super talented team with young people who are just not afraid of people, and I think that’s a good recipe with our older guys. Our pitching team is amazing, so I have no doubt that when they get a couple of races we can come back.

“It’s just a fun team to be a part of.”

Tennessee’s starting pitchers weren’t as dominant this weekend, with rookie Chase Burns walking four, three hits and two runs in under three innings on Friday.

“If it ends up being his worst night, then it’s a very good worst night,” Vitello said on Friday. “Otherwise, we expect him to fight under these circumstances because he has seen what it is like.”

Sophomore Chase Dollander was lit for a pair of home runs in the first inning Saturday, but he ended up striking out the last 10 batters he faced and nearly worked seven innings. Dollander had 10 strikeouts, bringing his SEC-leading total to 70, and Vitello praised him for grinding and spreading things, which saved some of his bullpen in the process.

In the final, rookie Drew Beam worked over six innings and had a career-high seven strikeouts.

Tennessee will face Tennessee Tech on Tuesday at Kodak, home of the Tennessee Smokies, before returning to Lindsey Nelson Stadium next weekend to host Alabama.

Heupel on Manning

Josh Heupel threw the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday’s game, the sophomore Tennessee football coach displaying the accuracy of his days as Oklahoma’s quarterback more than two decades ago.

“It was a strike, which is not easy,” Vitello said. “He’s got one on Peyton Manning right there, if I may say so.”

AP Photo by Stephen Spillman/Brandon Huntley-Hatfield of Tennessee dribbles past Texas forward Dylan Disu during a Big 12/SEC Challenge game January 29.

Portal alert

Tennessee forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, who played in all 35 basketball games last season as a rookie and started the last 13, has entered the transfer portal.

The 6-foot-10, 246-pound Clarksville averaged 12.6 minutes, 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds for the Vols, who went 27-8 and won the SEC tournament for the first time since 1979 before getting bounced by Michigan in the second round. of the NCAA game. One of Huntley-Hatfield’s biggest shots was a 3-pointer four minutes into the second half against visiting Auburn on Feb. 25, which sparked a 32-10 run that turned a 11-point deficit into an 11-point lead in Tennessee’s eventual 67. -62 victory.

The departure of Huntley-Hatfield leaves coach Rick Barnes with four scholarships to fill.

Contact David Paschall at [email protected] or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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