WHAT HAPPENED: Sophomore Greg Deichmann singled in a run and freshman Antoine Duplantis hit a three-run home run in a four-run eighth inning that led LSU to a 10-7 win over Tennessee in front of 2,393 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Sunday.
The No. 13 Tigers completed the three-game sweep to improve to 36-16, 17-10 in the SEC. The Vols fell to 26-26 and 7-20 in the SEC, staying in a tie for last place in the conference with Arkansas
LSU took a 3-0 lead in the second on a two-run triple by junior Cole Freeman and an RBI single by Duplantis. The Vols answered in the bottom half of the winning with an RBI single by junior Max Bartlett and an RBI groundout by senior Derek Lance to make it 3-2.
The Tigers expanded the lead in the third with an RBI single by sophomore Bryce Jordan that made it 4-2. In the sixth, Jordan crushed a solo home run over the left field wall and Deichmann drove in a run with an RBI triple off the center field wall to make it 6-2.
In the sixth, however, Tennessee senior Tyler Schultz drove in two runs with a double down the left field line. With two outs in the seventh, junior Nick Senzel walked, senior Vincent Jackson singled and sophomore Benito Santiago drove both in with a two-run triple to the left center field gap that tied the game 6-6.
Tennessee junior reliever Hunter Martin walked LSU freshman Greg Reid, the leadoff hitter in the eighth inning. He retired the next two batters, but UT coach Dave Serrano then pulled him for senior left-hander Andy Cox. Cox immediately gave up the single to Deichmann, who hit a grounder just past the glove of diving UT second baseman Jordan Rodgers into right field. Cox then walked Freeman. Duplantis then crushed a 3-2 slider over the right field wall to make it 10-6.
Tennessee scored a run on an RBI single by sophomore Brodie Leftridge in the eighth, but didn’t get a baserunner after that.
WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Duplantis was 2-for-5 with that home run and four RBI. Bryce Jordan was 3-for-3 with his home run, two runs scored and two RBI. Deichmann was 2-for-4 with a triple, a run and two RBI, and Freeman was 1-for-1 with a triple, three walks, two runs scored and two RBI.
Santiago and Schultz each had two hits and two RBI for UT. Jackson was 1-for-3 with two runs scored.
WHY DID IT HAPPEN: The Vols struggled with control for much of the day, combining to walk six batters and hitting one. Four of the runners who received free passes scored.
Cox seemed especially rattled after the hit he gave up. When he missed, he wasn’t close to the zone, and his slider stayed high enough for Duplantis to square up for the decisive blow.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: The Vols have now effectively waited for the last possible moment to make a push for the SEC tournament, and even a winning season is now in jeopardy.
Anything less than winning two out of three over Georgia will keep Tennessee from Hoover. They are one game behind both Auburn and Missouri, who are both 8-19 and tied with Arkansas at 7-20. Auburn and Missouri own the head-to-head tiebreakers, so the Vols have to actually pass at least one of those two teams to earn the berth. They can catch Georgia and earn the tiebreaker with the Bulldogs, but that requires the Vols to pull off a sweep on the road. They will have to root for Kentucky against Missouri, Mississippi State against Arkansas and Vanderbilt against Auburn.
The sweep also puts coach Dave Serrano in an even more difficult position as he hopes to be retained for the 2017 season. His five-year contract is up after this year, and he has posted a winning record just once in five seasons. The Vols have never had an SEC record better than 12-18 in his tenure, and anything less than a sweep against the Bulldogs means he will finish short of double-digit SEC victories for the third time in five years.