Top-seeded Tennessee overpowers Alabama State 10-0
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Blade Tidwell surrendered just three hits in 7 2/3 shutout innings, Jordan Beck hit two of No. 1 overall seed Tennessee’s five home runs and the Volunteers rolled to a 10-0 victory over Alabama State in the Knoxville Regional on Friday.
Tennessee (54-7), which has won nine straight, will play the winner of Friday’s nightcap between Campbell and Georgia Tech on Saturday. Alabama State (34-24) will play an elimination game against the loser earlier Saturday.
Tidwell (3-1) surpassed his longest stint on the mound this season by three innings, striking out seven with no walks.
Jorel Ortega staked the Vols to a 2-0 lead with an RBI double in the bottom of the second and a solo homer in the fourth. Beck hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth for a 3-0 lead. Tennessee broke the game open with a five-run sixth. Beck hit a two-run homer and Drew Gilbert followed with a solo shot to cap the rally. Blake Burke homered in the seventh and Beck followed suit in the eighth — both solo shots.
The Volunteers extended their home-run record to 146. No team has hit more in a season since the college game switched to the safer BBCOR bats in 2011.
Breon Pooler (10-3) took the loss for Alabama State. He allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk in 4 2/3 innings. Four singles accounted for the Hornets’ offense.
Slugging catcher Evan Russell, who has 38 career homers — tied with Todd Helton for the school record — did not play because of illness. Vols head coach Tony Vitello said after the game that he will likely not play on Saturday.
The Volunteers were named the top seed for the first time in program history after winning SEC regular-season and tournament titles for the first time since 1995. Tennessee continues to set the program record for wins and became the first SEC team to enter the tournament with 50-plus victories.
Tennessee entered play also leading the nation in slugging percentage (.604), earned-run average (2.35) and WHIP (0.96). The Vols also surrender the least amount of hits and walks in the country.
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