KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – An offensive explosion in the middle innings propelled No. 1/1 Tennessee past No. 22/NR Georgia Friday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, as the Vols clinched their final home weekend series of the year with a 9-2 win.
The win also clinched at least a share of the SEC regular season title for Tennessee (45-6, 22-4 SEC). The Vols can claim the outright title with a win in Saturday’s series finale against Georgia.
After being held scoreless through the first three innings, Tennessee erupted for eight total runs in the next three innings, while allowing just one Georgia run after the Bulldogs’ second batter of the day, in the top of the first, hit a solo home run.
For the second game in a row, a Tennessee player hit two home runs—this time Evan Russell. The graduate senior had a two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth to give the Vols the lead and then a solo homer in the seventh inning.
Jorel Ortega was also active on the offensive end, recording three hits and driving in three runs—one apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
On the mound, Camden Sewell (5-1) was credited with the win for Tennessee after logging three innings of work as the first Vol out of the bullpen. Blade Tidwell got the start for Tennessee, struggling early, but recovering to finish with a final line of four innings pitched, four hits surrendered, one run given up and six strikeouts.
Mark McLaughlin and Kirby Connell finished off the game for the Vols, each going an inning, and allowing zero combined hits in the final two innings.
Following its quiet start in the first three innings, Tennessee’s offense came alive with a three-run fourth inning to take a lead it would not surrender for the rest of the night.
Trailing 1-0 after Georgia’s early home run, Jorel Ortega drove in the Vols’ first run of the game with a double down the left line—scoring Trey Lipscomb all the way from first base. Two batters later, Russell blasted a two-run homer over the left field porches to give Tennessee a 3-1 lead.
After Georgia plated one run in the top of the fifth by drawing a bases loaded walk, the Vols once again answered in the bottom of the inning. Luc Lipcius kick-started Tennessee’s three-run inning with a leadoff home run that sailed over the wall in right center.
Four batters later, a single from Ortega scored Drew Gilbert from second base and after Blake Burke followed Ortega’s RBI up with a single of his own, Cortland Lawson drew a bases loaded walk to extend Tennessee’s lead to 6-2.
Following its back-to-back three-run innings, Tennessee added three more runs in its next two frames—two in the sixth and one in the seventh—to extend its lead to 9-2.
Ortega drove in his third run of the day with a single through the right side in the sixth, immediately followed by Jordan Beck scoring on a wild pitch. In the seventh, Russell tacked on his second homer of the evening to close out Tennessee’s scoring for the evening.
UP NEXT: The Vols go for the sweep over the Bulldogs in the series finale Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium at 1 p.m. Tickets are sold out, but standing room only tickets will be on sale starting 90 minutes before first pitch. The game will air on SEC Network+.
RUSSELL APPROACHES HOME RUN CROWN: With his two-home run performance on Friday, Evan Russell increased his career home run total to 37—moving into a tie for second place in program history with Doug Hecker (1990-92). Russell needs just one more home run to tie Todd Helton for the career home run program record.
RUSSELL MOVES UP GAMES PLAYED LIST: In addition to his ascension on the career home runs list, Friday marked Evan Russell’s 220th game as a Vol, giving him sole possession of second place for career games played in program history. Pete Derkay (2017-21) holds the program record with 229 career games played.