BATON ROUGE, La. – Heading on the road to face a major test and a marquee series, the No. 9/10 Tennessee Volunteers gear up to take on top-ranked LSU at Alex Box Stadium for a three-game set beginning Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET.
The Vols (20-6, 3-3 SEC) rebounded nicely in their second SEC series, sweeping Texas A&M on Rocky Top last weekend. The Vols hit the ball extremely well, averaging nine runs per game and posting a .337 average against the Aggies.
Last time out, the Volunteers notched their seventh shutout victory of the season, blanking UNC Asheville, 5-0, and conceding just one hit to the Bulldogs.
This weekend holds a lot of intrigue as highly regarded MLB Draft prospects are riddled throughout both teams’ rosters and will have a chance to prove themselves in front of a national audience both Thursday and Friday night as the games will be broadcast on ESPNU and SEC Network, respectively.
WEEKEND SCHEDULE/PROJECTED STARTING PITCHERS
Game 1 – Thursday, March 30 (8 p.m.) [ESPNU]
RHP Chase Dollander (4-2, 3.93 ERA) vs. RHP Paul Skenes (5-0, 0.59 ERA)
Game 2 – Friday, March 31 (7 p.m.) [SEC Network]
RHP Chase Burns (2-1, 4.15 ERA) vs. RHP Ty Floyd (4-0, 2.05 ERA)
Game 3 – Saturday, April 1 (2 p.m.)
RHP Drew Beam (3-1, 2.54 ERA) vs. RHP Thatcher Hurd (2-0, 3.91 ERA)
Thursday and Friday’s games will be broadcast live on ESPNU (Thursday) and SEC Network (Friday) with Dave Neal (PxP), Kyle Peterson (Analyst) and Ben McDonald (Analyst) calling the action. Saturday’s game will be broadcast on SEC Network+ with Lyn Rollins (PxP) and Ben McDonald (Analyst) on the call.
The online broadcast can be accessed on any mobile device through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch.
Fans can also listen to the Voice of Tennessee Baseball, John Wilkerson, call the action on the Vol Network (FM 99.1/AM 990) or via a free audio stream on UTSports.com and the Tennessee Athletics Gameday App.
Overall: LSU leads, 59-28
in Knoxville: LSU leads, 20-18
in Baton Rouge: LSU leads, 36-8
at Neutral Sites: LSU leads, 3-2
Last 10 Meetings: Tennessee leads, 6-4
Last Meeting: W, 5-2 (May 27, 2022, in Hoover, Ala.)
TOP 10 BATTLE ON THE BAYOU
This weekend’s series features a pair of top-10 teams as the No. 9/10 Vols hit the road to take on No. 1/1 LSU at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge. The matchup will mark UT’s first regular-season series against a top-10 opponent since sweeping No. 3 Vanderbilt on the road last season (April 1-3, 2022).
Since Tony Vitello became UT’s head coach in 2018, the Vols have posted 52 wins over ranked foes, including 21 victories over teams ranked in the top 10 and six wins over top-ranked teams – Ole Miss (x3) in 2022, Arkansas in 2021, Texas Tech in 2020 and Florida in 2018.
Tennessee went 16-6 against ranked foes last year with series wins over No. 22 Georgia, No. 17 Auburn, No. 24 Alabama and sweeps at No. 3 Vanderbilt and No. 1 Ole Miss, plus three ranked wins in the SEC Tournament.
WHAT CAN MOORE DO FOR YOU?
Sophomore second baseman Christian Moore has been arguably the Vols’ best all-around player so far this season with his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. Entering this weekend’s series, Moore leads the team in the following categories: batting avg. (.360), walks (25), on-base pct. (.524) and stolen bases (11).
Moore’s 25 walks are tied for 15th nationally and rank fourth in the SEC while his .524 on-base percentage ranks 32nd in the country and sixth in the SEC. His 11 stolen bases rank sixth in the conference, as well.
In Tennessee’s last 10 games, Moore is slashing .429/.514/.571 with a team-best 12 hits.
Moore has also been a rock defensively at second base, leading the team with 49 assists while committing just two errors in 76 chances
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
Despite falling behind early in all three games last weekend versus Texas A&M, UT found a way to win each game, including a walk-off win on Saturday.
BIG ORANGE BLASTS
After putting up record-setting home runs numbers in 2022, Tennessee has been leaving the yard at an impressive rate once again this season with 51 long balls through 26 games, which ranks seventh nationally heading into the series at LSU.
So far this season, 15 different players have gone deep for the Big Orange. Ten of those 15 players have hit multiple homers, led by Blake Burke (10) and Griffin Merritt (7).
UT has homered in 17 of its last 19 games and has gone deep multiple times in 17 games this season.
For the fourth time since 2019, the Big Orange tied the program’s single-season home run record, blasting seven long balls in the series opener vs. Morehead State on March 10.
Tennessee’s 158 home runs in 2022 shattered the previous program record of 107 while ranking fourth in NCAA Division I history, including the most by any team in the BBCOR bat era (since 2011)
- 2023 Record: 22-3 (4-2 SEC)
- 2022 Record: 40-22 (17-13 SEC)
- 2022 Postseason: NCAA Hattiesburg Regional Finals
- 2023 SEC Preseason Poll: 1st Western Division, 1st Overall
- 2023 SEC Preseason All-SEC
- First Team: Dylan Crews (OF), Tommy White (DH/UTL)
- Second Team: Tre’ Morgan (1B), Paul Skenes (SP)
- Head Coach: Jay Johnson (11th season overall, 2nd at LSU)
- Stat Leaders:
- Average: Dylan Crews (.542)
- OBP: Dylan Crews (.667)
- SLG: Dylan Crews (.988)
- Hits: Dylan Crews (45)
- Runs: Dylan Crews (48)
- RBIs: Tommy White (42)
- Doubles: Dylan Crews (10)
- Triples: Tre’ Morgan (3)
- Home Runs: Dylan Crews (9)
- Stolen Bases: Jordan Thompson (4)
- ERA: Paul Skenes (0.59)
- WHIP: Paul Skenes (0.53)
- BAA: Paul Skenes (.115)
- Innings Pitched: Paul Skenes (30.1)
- Strikeouts: Paul Skenes (59)
- Wins: Paul Skenes (5)
- Saves: Christian Little (2)
Tennessee has taken the last two series against LSU, both coming in Knoxville, which includes the 2021 NCAA Super Regional that sent the Vols to Omaha for the College World Series.
The Vols are looking for their first series win in Baton Rouge since 2009.
Tennessee will not have a midweek next week and will prepare for another important weekend as the Vols welcome Florida to Rocky Top for another Thursday-Saturday series. The action kicks off on April 23 at 8 p.m. ET.