HOOVER, Ala. – No. 4 Tennessee exacted some revenge with Friday’s 11-0 shutout win over Alabama and secured a spot in the SEC Tournament semifinals for the first time since 1995.
The second-seeded Vols posted their second straight run-rule victory, rolling over the Tide in seven innings. Freshman right hander Blade Tidwell threw six shutout frames while the bats exploded for 11 runs on 11 hits, including four home runs.
Tidwell continued his string of dominant performances on the mound, allowing just two hits while striking out five to earn the win and improve to 8-3 on the year. The Loretto, Tennessee, native’s eight victories are the fourth most by a freshman in program history.
The Vols got the scoring started with a Big Orange blast by Lipcius in the second inning. After Russell led off with a single, Lipcius destroyed a 2-2 pitch for his 12th homer of the year to put UT ahead 2-0.
Russell increased UT’s lead once again with a two-run home run in the fourth, his 13th blast of the season. It was the third hit of the day for Lexington, Tennessee native, who also scored three runs and finished a triple short of the cycle.
The Vols capped the scoring with back-to-back homers by Spence and Ferguson to lead off the sixth inning, extending the lead to 11 and bringing the run-rule into play.
Kirby Connell retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh to end the game and secure a spot in Saturday’s semifinal.
Tennessee (44-15) will take on No. 6 seed Florida tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET for a spot in the SEC Tournament Championship game.
ON TO THE SEMIS : First time since 1995, Tennessee will play in the SEC Tournament semifinals. This will mark the first time in the tournament’s current format that the Vols have reached the semifinals.
DERKAY TAKES OVER GAMES PLAYED RECORD: Vols senior Pete Derkay moved into first place in program history in career games played on Friday. The Acworth, Georgia, native has now appeared in 220 games during his Tennessee career, surpassing Michael Rivera who played in 219 games from 2003-06. Derkay had a hit and an RBI in Thursday’s win.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE: UT set a new single-game program record for homers in an SEC Tournament game with four on Thursday. The previous high was three against Vanderbilt on May 22, 1994. Tennessee has now hit four or more homers five times this year and has hit 81 long balls this season, which is tied for the third most in a single season in program history.
Tennessee Single Season HR Totals
1. 107 (1998)
2. 87 (2009)
3. 81 (2021 & 2010)