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Tennessee Baseball Pulls Out ‘Gritty’ Win To Clinch LSU Series

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

After allowing a leadoff single in the third inning, Drew Beam immediately induced a Mac Bingham ground ball to short. It should have been a double play but Christian Moore’s throw pulled Blake Burke off the base. Two at-bats later, Michael Braswell hit a soft grounder to shortstop. This time Tennessee completed the double play.

The sequence perfectly encapsulated Tennessee baseball’s 3-1 series clinching win over LSU on Saturday afternoon in front of the first ever crowd of 6,000-plus people at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

“It was just gritty,” Tennessee left fielder Dylan Dreiling said postgame. “A pretty gritty effort from us.”

Beam’s outing largely matched the third inning. LSU got a baserunner against him in all seven innings he took the mound including the leadoff batter in four innings. The pitch to contact Beam just calmly worked through the chaos and put up zeros on the scoreboard.

“That’s a pretty unique deal to be able to do that and navigate through all that trouble,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said postgame.

The most impressive Houdini act came in the second inning. With runners on first and second with no outs, Vols’ third baseman Billy Amick threw a sac bunt into left field. An unearned run came home and LSU had runners on second and third with no one out.

Beam didn’t allow any more runs to score. The junior retired Jared Jones and Tommy White— LSU’s top hitters— in the process.

“It was a big turning point,” Beam said postgame. “Momentum kind of switched our way a little bit. [Luke] Holman threw a really good game for them, so he kept us at ease for a little while. It kept things pretty even and kept the energy up.”

More From RTI: What Tony Vitello Said After Tennessee’s Game Two Win Over LSU

The energy in the dugout was something Vitello liked throughout the game. Tennessee failed to capitalize on a prime scoring chance in the second inning and Luke Holman took a no hitter into the sixth inning. But Tennessee kept chipping away.

Tennessee took the lead in the sixth inning on a two-out, two-RBI single by Dylan Dreiling and added an insurance run on an eighth inning Billy Amick home run.

“There clearly could have been frustration throughout, not just early in the game but throughout the game on the offensive end, and our guys just kept pushing,” Vitello said. “I was extremely encouraged by the attitude where some of those innings ended in frustration, and everybody was all about, ‘Let’s go play defense,’ because obviously, we were going to need our defense today.

That was kind of the whole day really. It was a gutty effort led by Drew Beam.”

Past the gritty and gutty effort of the win, Tennessee won a game in a way they haven’t won many this season. The Vols have leaned on their offense but against an elite starting pitching the found a way to win with pitching.

Entering Saturday’s game, Tennessee hadn’t won a SEC game scoring less than six runs and they had scored double-digit runs in six of its eight wins. This was a different style of win for Vitello’s seventh squad.

“We’re adding different ways to a rolodex of ways to win games, which is nice,” Vitello said. “You’ll take them anyway that you can get them, but I think today was low-scoring and just real gutty.”

Tennessee goes for its first series sweep of the conference season on Sunday afternoon. First pitch between the Vols and Tigers is at 3 p.m. ET.

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