KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee is Omaha bound. The Vols baseball team erupted for five home runs in the first five innings, six in all, Saturday to defeat LSU 15-6 and return to their first College World Series since 2005.
The power-filled game saw both teams launching the ball out of Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Vols and Tigers combined for 10 home runs in all.
Jake Rucker got the home run derby going in the first inning with a shot to deep left center. He followed it up with his second in the third inning.
LSU ace Landon Marceaux came into Sunday’s match having only given up five total home runs on the season. After he gave up two in the first few innings, Mainieri went to his bullpen to find another solution. Freshman pitcher Garrett Edwards started the fourth inning on the mound for the Tigers, only to follow in Marceaux’s steps.
The Vols’ Connor Pavolony added another home run from the No. 9 spot in the batting order to make it 5-2 Tennessee.
Drew Gilbert, who hit the grand slam winner against Wright State in the Regional, would follow it up with a home run of his own to right field in the fifth and Jordan Beck would smash a three-run bomb to left center to put the Vols up 9-2.
LSU attempted a late rally, hitting home runs in back-to-back innings to cut the deficit to 11-6, but it was too little, too late.
Evan Russell hit a two-run homer to give the Vols a 13-6 lead in the top of the eighth inning, setting a new NCAA Tournament program record with six total home runs.
The Vols added two more in the top of the ninth to score the program’s most runs ever in a Super Regional game and sweep the Tigers.
In all, the Vols were efficient getting their 15 runs on just 12 hits and four walks. Rucker finished 3 for 5 at the plate scoring three times and accounting for four RBIs.
Freshman pitcher Blake Tidwell picked up his 13th win of the season giving up 7 hits, including four home runs, and striking out seven in seven innings.
Marceaux took the loss on short rest. Tigers head baseball coach Paul Mainieri said he wanted to give Marceaux an extra day of rest after the Eugene Regional, deciding to throw him in game two. Yet instead of rested he looked rusty, taking some time to settle in on the mound.
Tennessee also keeps their undefeated streak in Super Regional play moving to 6-0 as a program. The Vols have hit 11 home runs in the last three games.
Up Next: Tennessee baseball returns to the College World Series for the first time in 16 years. The Vols will face the winner of the Dallas Baptist-Virginia series.