No. 1 Vols pull away late to drop Kentucky, make SEC final

May 28, 2022, 11:02 AM | Updated: 11:03 pm

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Cortland Lawson doubled in two runs in a four-run eighth inning, Blake Burke hit a three-run homer in a six-run ninth inning and top-seeded Tennessee turned back 12th-seeded Kentucky 12-2 on Saturday night to advance to the SEC Tournament championship game.

The Volunteers (52-7) take a seven-game winning streak into Sunday’s matchup with Florida.

The Wildcats (33-26), the lowest seed in the tournament, had won four elimination games before falling in the semifinals to the league champions who they had beaten twice in the regular season. They scored two runs in the fifth to tie the game at 2.

Tennessee had three singles to load the bases with one out in the top of the eighth. Luc Lipcius scored when Jorel Ortega was hit by a pitch. Jordan Beck scored on a wild pitch before Burke was intentionally walked to reload the bases. Lawson doubled to right center, driving in Trey Lipscomb and Ortega but Burke was thrown out at the play to end the inning.

Drew Gilbert doubled in two runs in the ninth as the Volunteers cashed in two walks and a hit batter to break the game open.

The Volunteers, who have the nation’s best ERA, have allowed five runs in three tournament games. Starter Drew Beam went 3 1/3 innings without allowing a run but walked six. Chase Burns (8-1) went 4 2/3 to pick up the win, notching eight of Tennessee’s 17 strikeouts.

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