KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Led by an incredible performance on the mound from junior Chad Dallas, No. 9 Tennessee opened its series against No. 14 LSU with a 3-1 victory in front of an energized crowd on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Dallas dominated from the jump, recording two of his career-high 11 strikeouts in the opening frame to start the game. The Orange, Texas native as tied a career high with seven innings pitched while scattering five hits and allowing just a single run to improve to 4-0 on the year.
Despite recording just four hits on the night, the Vols’ offense had runners reach base in every inning but one and kept constant pressure on the LSU pitchers throughout the night. UT drew seven walks and also had two players get hit by pitches.
Veteran right hander Sean Hunley did not allow a hit over the final two innings in relief of Dallas and struck out pinch hitter Will Safford to end the game and secure his second save of the season.
The Tigers (16-6 // 1-3 SEC) struck first on a solo home run from Gavin Dugas to lead off the second inning but were unable to get much going offensively for the remainder of the game against Dallas and Hunley.
The Vols (19-4 // 3-1 SEC) grabbed the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Spence led off the inning with a double before scoring on a triple to center field by Rucker to tie the game at one. Rucker scored on a passed by one batter later to put Tennessee ahead 2-1.
The Big Orange added a big insurance run in the seventh on a RBI double by Gilbert to score Pete Derkay from second and make it a 3-1 game.
Dugas walked to lead off the ninth inning, but the Vols turned a huge 4-6-3 double play before Hunley struck out Safford to end the game and snap an eight-game losing streak to the Tigers.
Tennessee will look to secure another series win tomorrow night. First pitch for Saturday’s contest against the Tigers is slated for 6 p.m. and will be streamed on SEC Network+ and the ESPN app.
IT AIN’T EASY BEING CHEESY: For the second straight SEC game, UT got an incredible performance from its starting pitcher as Chad Dallas baffled LSU hitters throughout the night. The junior right hander set a new career high with 11 strikeouts, topping his previous high of nine, to improve to 4-0 on the season. With Friday’s win, Dallas is now a perfect 7-0 in nine-career starts as a Volunteer.
SUCCESS IN SERIES OPENERS: The Vols improved to 6-0 this season in series openers with Friday’s victory. In those six wins, UT has outscored its opponents 35-16.