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Preview: Tennessee Hosts Reigning National Champion LSU

Photo Credit: Grayson Belanger/Auburn Tigers

Lindsey Nelson Stadium will play host for a big SEC series between Tennessee and LSU this weekend. The Vols come in having won three consecutive series in conference play. LSU, on the other hand, has not won a weekend series in the SEC this year. This is a spot where LSU is desperate to get back on track and at least make it to Hoover after winning a National Championship in 2023. On the other hand, Tennessee will be looking for revenge, since LSU ended their season in Omaha last year. The Vols went 1-4 against LSU in 2023, dropping two out of three in the regular season and losing twice in Omaha to the Tigers.

LSU’s struggles have mainly come in conference play, going 19-3 in their out of conference matchups. SEC games have been a different animal for the Tigers, with just a 3-9 record and dropping all four of their SEC series to this point. LSU is a dangerous team on Friday nights, with starter Luke Holman being one of the best arms in the country. He has posted a whopping 71 strikeouts in just 44.2 innings pitched. Griffin Herring tends to be a big contributor out of the pen on Friday night as well, relieving Holman. Herring has posted a 2.42 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 22.1 innings this season.

LSU has a dangerous lineup, especially at the top of the order. Tommy White is a phenomenal bat that powers the offense. Jared Jones and Steven Milam are also big contributors at the top of the order. Those three have combined for a slash line of .315/.433/.584. Tommy White has hit 11 home runs and Jared Jones has hit 14 home runs. The biggest area of concern for Jay Johnson’s LSU Tigers has been the pitching and defense. As imagined, it is extremely difficult to replace Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews, and the lack of depth without them has shown at times for LSU.

Tennessee, on the other hand, has been struggling on Friday nights but dominating on Saturday and Sunday. The past two weekends, the Vols have dropped the Friday game, including being run-ruled by Georgia, then won the next two games to take the series. The Vols offense continues to dominate and has made a strong case as the best offensive attack in the country. The pitching has been solid but lacks depth with a lot of young arms and new faces to the SEC. Expect to see a shake up with the pitching staff this weekend as Vitello will wait to announce a Friday starter. It will be extremely interesting to see how the pitching staff is deployed Friday night and over the course of the weekend as Tony Vitello looks for an answer on the mound to make another run to Omaha. This year’s team doesn’t have Chase Dollander, Andrew Lindsey, or Blade Tidwell on the roster. Plenty of opportunities exist for pitchers to step up and show they can compete at the highest level.

Typically, I would highlight a few Vols who have been hot at the plate lately, but in reality they are all red hot. The last time an opponent held the Vols to less than 10 hits was Ole Miss on March 23rd. The Vols have scored double-digit runs in three of their last five games and clobbered an astounding 14 home runs in three games against Auburn. This is a historic offensive stretch the Vols have been on lately. Look for Billy Amick to also return to the lineup this weekend. If Amick is healthy enough to play third base, then the expectation would likely be for Dalton Bargo to DH. Tony has so much depth to work with in his lineup that it really doesn’t matter who starts; everyone expects a light show.

LSU Players to Watch:

RHP Luke Holman - Best pitcher on the roster by far. Jay pushes him back a day to matchup against Beam

3B Tommy White - Outstanding junior who consistently hits balls hard

1B Jared Jones - His 14 home runs are tied for 13th in the nation

Tennessee Players to Watch:

1B Blake Burke - The new HR king on Rocky Top is on a 23 game hit streak

2B Christian Moore - Just 2 back from Burke’s career HR total and coming off a 3 HR weekend

RHP Drew Beam - Saturday starter that is a model of consistency

Projected Pitching Matchups:

Game 1 - Gage Jump (2-0, 3.98 ERA, 38 K) v TBA

Game 2 - Luke Holman (6-1, 2.01 ERA, 71 K) v Drew Beam (4-1, 3.63 ERA, 40 K)

Game 3 - TBA v Zander Sechrist (1-0, 3.38 ERA, 32 K)

Tennessee history v LSU:

All-Time: 29-63

Last 10: 6-4

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