KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Evan Russell tied Tennessee’s single-game record with three home runs and Drew Gilbert hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning to lead No. 9 Tennessee to an incredible 9-8 victory over No. 14 LSU.
The game started on Saturday night and was suspended in the top of the ninth inning with the Tigers leading 8-7 due to lightning and inclement weather in the area and had to be completed on Sunday.
Gilbert’s 11th inning solo shot just cleared the wall in right field to give the Vols their second walk-off home run of the season and clinch Tennessee’s first series win over LSU since 2009.
Russell’s three homer night was the first since Cody Hawn accomplished the feat against Ohio on March 6, 2009. The Lexington, Tennessee, native also set a new career high with five RBI.
Trailing by a run entering the bottom of the ninth and down to their final strike, Gilbert tied the game with a double to right field and send the game to extra innings.
Senior left hander Will Heflin got the start for the Vols and struck out six in 3.1 innings but also allowed a pair of runs on six hits. Camden Sewell was solid in relief before running into some trouble in the top of the seventh. He finished with three strikeouts in 3.0 innings of work but also have up three runs.
UT relievers Kirby Connell and Sean Hunley were outstanding for the Vols late in the game. Connell had four strikeouts in 2.2 shutout innings before handing the ball to Hunley. The Mount Juliet, Tennessee native struck out Jordan Thompson to strand two runners on base and keep the game tied. That ended up being the only batter Hunley faced as he earn the win and improve to 3-0 on the year.
For the second straight night, LSU opened the scoring with a solo home run. After Heflin struck out Dylan Crews to start the game, first baseman Tre’ Morgan hit a 2-2 pitch to right center that just cleared the wall to make it 1-0.
The Tigers went up 2-0 with an RBI single in the top of the third, but Russell responded with the first of his three homers in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at two.
An RBI groundout by Gavin Dugas in the top of the fifth briefly put LSU back in the lead, but the Big Orange exploded for four runs in the bottom of the frame to take their first lead of the night. Russell hit his second two-run blast of the game to give UT a 4-3 lead before Drew Gilbert and Luc Lipcius both drove in runs with the bases loaded to make it a 6-3 game.
Russell’s third and final homer of the game, a solo shot in the sixth, put the Vols up 7-3. However, the Tigers answered with a pair of runs in the seventh to cut the Tennessee lead to two.
LSU (16-7 // 1-4 SEC) regained the lead with three runs in the eighth after home runs from Crews and Dugas put the Tigers ahead 8-7.
After a missed opportunity with the bases loaded in the 10th inning, Gilbert ended the game with his walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th. The play was reviewed to make sure the ball cleared the wall and was upheld after replay, sending the Vols’ dugout into a frenzy.
RUSSELL TIES HR RECORD: Evan Russell put on an historic performance on Saturday night, tying the Tennessee single-game program record with three home runs. The senior outfielder went deep in each of his first three at-bats, tying a record held by four other Volunteers, including Rusty Ensor, who was on the SEC Network+ call for Saturday’s contest.
Three Homer Games (UT History)
Evan Russell vs. LSU (March 27, 2021)
Cody Hawn vs. Ohio (March 6, 2009)
Todd Helton vs. Arkansas (March 25, 1995)
Alan Cockrell vs. Austin Peay (March 16, 1983)
Rusty Ensor vs. Vanderbilt (April 2, 1981)
WALK-OFF HEROICS: After not hitting a single walk-off home run since 2010, Tennessee has now hit two this season after Gilbert’s game-winner in Game 2 of the series. Jordan Beck hit the other walk-off homer this season with a three-run shot in the 10th inning against ETSU on March 16.
UT’s Game 2 win was also their fourth in extra innings this season. The Big Orange have won five straight extra-inning games dating back to 2019.