OMAHA, NE- In one of the most anticipated matchups of the entire postseason, LSU and Tennessee fans filled Charles Schwab Field to see the Tigers and Vols battle for the fourth time this season.
After defeating the Volunteers twice already this season, LSU had a comfortable familiarity with the Tennessee lineup. LSU starter Paul Skenes coasted as the Tiger offense was able to find success. Gavin Dugas deposited a home run in to the left field seats in the 2nd inning to start the scoring. Tennessee Head Coach Tony Vitello expressed frustration with Dugas, saying “I don’t know what we did to Gavin, but he hates us… and I’m only speaking in brevity, the best I can do. He’s done well against us the four games we’ve played this year.”
LSU added an RBI from Tre Morgan in the 3rd, as Skenes continued to keep the Tennessee offense at bay. The Dick Howser Trophy winner struck out seven of the first ten Volunteer bats that he faced.
Tennessee designated hitter Griffin Merritt said on Skenes, “The guy has four pitches that he can throw for strikes. And everybody sees the velocity. And that doesn’t help when you’re at the plate. But, his ability to locate pitches and his ability to mix pitches, 2-0 is not an automatic fastball down the middle.”
Skenes, when asked about pitching in a game of this magnitude, in this environment, said, “This is why I came to LSU”.
LSU pulled away in the 6th, turning a 2-0 lead in to a 4-0 advantage, before adding one more run in the 7th. Tennessee was able to effectively threaten Skenes when he surpassed 100 pitches on the night, scratching a run across in the 8th to knock the LSU starter out of the game. LSU reliever Gavin Guidry threw just one pitch to Tennessee's Hunter Ensley, who cut the LSU lead to 5-3 with a home run to left center.
Just when Tennessee got within striking distance, it was Brayden Jobert who sealed the LSU victory with a solo shot in the bottom half. Jobert led the game with three hits, none being louder than his dinger in the 8th. LSU’s Riley Cooper shut the door on Tennessee, catching the last out himself on a line drive, to finish off a 6-3 Tiger victory.
The victorious Tigers will now take on #1 overall Wake Forest on Monday night, the winner sitting pretty in their bracket at 2-0; while the losing Tennessee Volunteers will play Stanford Monday afternoon, in an elimination game.
Vitello will turn to Chase Dollander as his starting pitcher, against Stanford’s Quinn Matthews, who achieved notoriety last week by throwing 156 pitches in the Super Regional. The Volunteer head coach voiced his confidence in Dollander, saying that both he (Tony) and Dollander want to see Drew Beam pitch again. Beam would pitch against the loser of LSU/Wake Forest if Tennessee were to defeat Stanford on Monday.
BOX SCORE: https://www.ncaa.com/game/6147534/boxscore