Tennessee baseball opened its three-game series against Mississippi State with a football score and closed it with another double-digit performance.
The No. 1 Vols (49-7, 25-5 SEC) swept the Bulldogs (26-30, 9-21) in Starkville to close out the regular season.
UT won 27-2 on Thursday. The final was 10-5 on Saturday. It wasn’t a football score on Friday, but the 4-3 come-from-behind victory eliminated Mississippi State, the defending national champions, from qualifying for the 12-team SEC Tournament. It was as thrilling as long pass caught in the end zone.
It was UT’s first sweep of the Bulldogs in Starkville in program history.
Tennessee will be the No. 1 seed in SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, and will play Wednesday (5:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network) against the winner on Tuesday between No. 8 seed Vanderbilt (35-19, 14-16) and No. 9 seed Ole Miss (32-21, 14-16).
It was pretty bad for Mississippi State
On Saturday, it started and ended for Mississippi State with a pop fly into left field.
Shortstop Lane Forsythe went back on it while left fielder Brad Cumbest sprinted in. The two collided as the ball dropped to the Dudy Noble Field grass.
Forsythe sprung up quickly, but Cumbest remained on the ground. As he slowly gathered himself and rose to his feet, he remained holding his jaw.
While Cumbest made his way toward the dugout — with Tennessee leading 2-1 — the attention turned to starting pitcher Cade Smith. Bulldogs coach Chris Lemonis and a trainer walked out to the mound and immediately removed Smith from the game.
Less than 20 minutes after RJ Yeager led off the game with his team-leading 18th home run, Mississippi State was without two key players and Tennessee had captured all the momentum.
The Vols scored in each inning from the second to the sixth, putting away the Bulldogs.
Evan Russell’s solo home run in the fifth was the 38th of his career and tied Todd Helton for the school record.
Drew Gilbert is hero with three-run homer
Drew Gilbert hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning and the Vols rallied Friday.
Mississippi State starter Preston Johnson pitched a gem through 7⅔ innings. With two outs, Luc Lipcius hit a double and scored on a Jordan Beck single. Gilbert followed with his ninth homer run of the season.
Blake Tidwell retired all nine batters he faced in relief. The sophomore struck out five in three innings.
Chase Dollander throw six no-hit innings
Tennessee starter Chase Dollander threw six no-hit innings on Thursday. The sophomore righthander threw 67 pitches with a walk as his lone blemish. He was pulled after Tennessee added seven runs in the seventh, which lasted more than 30 minutes. Dollander’s replacement, Mark McLaughlin, allowed a walk to open the bottom half before a Logan Tanner single to break up the no-hit bid.
The Vols tied the single-game program record with seven home runs for the second time this season. The 25-run margin of victory was the largest for an SEC game in program history.
It was the most runs Mississippi State had given up in a single game since 1966.
Stefan Krajisnik of the Clarion Ledger contributed to this story.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Tennessee baseball sweeps Mississippi State to finish regular season