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BREAKING: Tennessee Baseball Defeats LSU To Win SEC Tournament Championship

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

HOOVER, Ala. — Tennessee baseball completed its climb out of the loser’s bracket by knocking off LSU 4-3 to win the SEC Tournament Championship on Sunday afternoon.

Despite playing their fifth game in as many days, Tennessee’s pitching was fantastic in the championship game as the Vols won the title for the second time in three years.

Here’s how Tennessee got it done against LSU in the championship game.

Dylan Loy Rises To The Occassion

Entering the week, Andrew Behnke, Marcus Phillips and Dylan Loy were the three pitchers Tennessee was going to give big time opportunities to hoping they would rise to the occasion. None pitched well on Wednesday against Vanderbilt but then Behnke delivered against Mississippi State and Phillips delivered in the Saturday night rematch against Vanderbilt.

It was Loy’s turn to redeem himself against LSU and that’s exactly what the freshman did. Loy rose to the moment allowed no runs and just four total baserunners while striking out five in 4.2 innings pitched.

The left-handed pitcher pounded the strike zone, throwing 48 strikes on 78 pitches, his previous season-high was 50 pitches. He rarely found himself in trouble in large part because of that fact. In fact, Loy retired seven batters in a row at one point from the third inning through the fifth inning.

One of the few jams Loy found himself in came in the third inning when Tommy White hit a two-out double and Tennessee intentionally walked Jones. But it didn’t get any more dicey for Loy as he got out of the inning with a strikeout.

Missed Opportunities In Fourth And Fifth Innings

As Loy was cruising in the middle of the game, Tennessee failed to take advantage of a pair of potential big innings.

In the fourth inning, Hunter Ensley led off the inning with a single and took second on a wild pitch with one out. Back-to-back walks from Cannon Peebles and Cal Stark loaded the bases for Tennessee star second baseman Christian Moore.

Moore smoked a grounder but it was right at LSU second baseman Steven Milam who tossed the ball over to first to get LSU out of the inning.

Tennessee threatened again an inning later when Billy Amick reached on a throwing error and Hunter Ensley singled. The Vols had runners second and third with two-outs but Kavares Tears struck out to end the inning.

In a stretch where Tennessee had pitching stability, it threatened offensively but didn’t find a way to extend its lead.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of Tennessee Baseball’s Win/Loss Against LSU

A Game Changing Pick Off

Tennessee finally went away from Loy with two-outs and one batter on in the sixth inning. Behnke came in and promptly walked two batters on nine total pitches to load the bases.

LHP Kirby Connell came out of the bullpen but he wasn’t the one that got Tennessee out of the inning. His 1-0 pitch was in for a strike and Cal Stark quickly fired it behind Steven Milam at first base and Burke applied the tag for out number three.

A no doubt base running blunder by Milam but also a great, heads up play by Stark and Burke. It was Stark’s team-best fifth pick off of the season, a play that associate head coach Josh Elander said the two have “mastered.” It was a game changing play in a huge spot.

Billy Amick And Hunter Ensley Deliver At The Plate

Tennessee third baseman Billy Amick was zero-for-18 at the plate over the course of the tournament when he stepped to the plate with two-on and two-outs in the third inning. The Vols’ three-hitter was in the midst of a brutal slump that extended into the final couple weeks of the regular season.

He found a good time to break out of it. Amick launched a 422 foot, three-run home run to left field to give Tennessee a lead it wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

Amick didn’t just have a dominant way the rest of the way but he reached twice more on an error on a ground ball he hit hard and again on a walk. Definitely a step in the right direction after his struggles for most of the week.

Tennessee center fielder Hunter Ensley was a consistent threat at the plate all day. He set the tone in the second inning when he doubled to center field on the 10th pitch of his at-bat against Nate Ackenhausen. The LSU left-handed pitcher had struck out the first four Vols he faced.

Ensley went on to hit four-for-four at the plate including a seventh inning RBI single up the middle that provided a major insurance run.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee heads back to Knoxville to await its draw in the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show is at noon ET Monday.

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