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Tennessee Baseball Completes Sweep Of South Carolina To End Regular Season

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Baseball

Tennessee baseball concluded its regular season by defeating South Carolina 4-1 to secure the weekend sweep of South Carolina.

The Vols’ offense was relatively quiet but they made enough happen to support a fantastic starting pitching performance from Zander Sechrist.

Zander Sechrist’s Fantastic Outing

Tennessee game three starter Zander Sechrist hadn’t made it into the third inning in his previous two outings after having a stretch of solid prolonged outings earlier in SEC play.

The Vols will need a longer outing from Sechrist at some point in the SEC Tournament and that’s exactly what he gave them in the regular-season finale against South Carolina.

Sechrist was at his best against the Gamecocks, inducing soft contact after soft contact. He allowed no runs on four hits in six innings pitched. South Carolina only got a runner in-scoring position once against the left-handed pitcher and Sechrist slammed the door with a strikeout to get out of the fifth inning.

Sechrist threw just 65 pitches in six innings thanks in large part due to three double play balls that helped constantly erase baserunners. The Gamecocks didn’t once put two runners on base in one inning against Sechrist.

The outing tied Sechrist’s longest of the season in what was one of his most impressive start of his career.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of Tennessee Baseball’s Game Three Win Against South Carolina 

Run Manufacturing Vols

Tennessee is not known for playing small ball or manufacturing runs as they boast one of the nation’s best power hitting teams.

But that’s what the Vols did on a quiet offensive afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Tennessee opened the scoring in the fourth inning with a two-out rally. Hunter Ensley worked a walk and then Tennessee “offensive coordinator” Josh Elander dialed up a hit-and-run.

It worked to perfection as Kavares Tears roped a line drive double into the right-center gap that easily scored Ensley.

Tennessee did the bulk of its damage an inning later and while it didn’t include a ton of run manufacturing it didn’t include the normal fireworks of a Vols offensive burst. The first run of the inning came on a Blake Burke chopper that just got past second baseman Parker Noland.

Billy Amick drove in a run an at-bat later with an infield single. The third baseman promptly stole his third base of the season on the first pitch of the next at-bat and scored four pitches later on a Dylan Dreiling single to center field.

Tony Vitello oft talks about winning games in different ways. Winning without a home run and with some elements of small ball was certainly a different way to win.

Designated Hitter Production

Tennessee baseball has struggled to get production from its designated hitter spot in recent weeks creating one of the biggest question marks on the team.

Vitello started three different players at the spot this weekend while giving four different players at-bats in the spot. The Vols quietly got some production at the spot with a Reese Chapman double, Cannon Peebles walk and some hard hit outs.

But they took it a step up on Saturday when Dalton Bargo got his first at-bat of the weekend while earning the start. The left-handed bat hit two-of-three in Tennessee’s series finale win.

Bargo was fantastic the first half of SEC play but was in a massive slump entering the game. The versatile player hadn’t reached base in his last 20 plate appearances in SEC play, dating back to the series finale at Auburn.

The Missouri transfer is extremely talented and him finding his groove again before postseason play would be a huge boost for the Vols’ offense.  It capped off a better weekend for Tennessee’s designated hitter spot.

Box Score

Up Next

The regular season is over. Tennessee opens up play at the SEC Tournament on Wednesday.

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