BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 9/10 Tennessee dropped a hard-fought battle to top-ranked LSU, 5-2, in front of a record crowd of 13,068 in Thursday night’s series opener at Alex Box Stadium.
A battle of two of the nation’s top pitchers in UT’s Chase Dollander and LSU’s Paul Skenes lived up to the billing as the two aces both pitched well to give their respective teams a chance to win the ballgame.
Dollander battled throughout and escaped a few early jams to keep the game scoreless into the fifth inning, when the Vols opened the scoring with a clutch two-out RBI single by Christian Scott to plate Jared Dickey and put the Big Orange on top, 1-0.
The Tigers answered right back with a two-run homer from Gavin Dugas in the bottom of the fifth, the only runs that Dollander surrendered on the night. The sophomore right hander allowed four hits and struck out three in 4.2 innings of work before making way for Seth Halvorsen, who was dynamite in relief.
The hard-throwing right hander was the tough-luck loser after giving up three unearned runs in the eighth inning. After a two-out error extended the inning, LSU’s Jordan Thompson made UT pay for the defensive miscue with a bases-clearing three-run double to put the Tigers ahead 5-2 not long after Christian Moore knotted the game up at two with an RBI single in the top of the inning.
Halvorsen scattered three hits, struck out one and did not issue a walk in 3.1 impressive innings out of the bullpen for the Vols.
Tennessee suffered its first loss this season when outhitting its opponent after finishing with an 8-7 edge in the contest. Dickey led the way with a pair of singles and a run scored while Maui Ahuna, Blake Burke, Hunter Ensley and Dylan Dreiling also had one hit apiece.
UT’s hitters did a good job of making Skenes work hard for his outs, but ultimately were only able to get one run off the talented right hander as he scattered five hits and struck out 12 while allowing just one walk in seven innings of work.
LSU reliever Garrett Edwards ended up picking up the win to improve to 4-0 on the year after tossing the final 1.2 innings. The Vols were able to record a pair of hits off Edwards and brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the ninth after a throwing error by Thompson and a single by Dreiling put runners on the corners. Edwards was able to buckle down, however, striking out pinch hitter Kavares Tears before getting Scott to fly out to deep center field to end the game.
UP NEXT: Tennessee (20-7, 3-4 SEC) will look to even the series tomorrow night when the two sides square off at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. Sophomore Chase Burns will get the start for the Vols while LSU (23-3, 5-2 SEC) will turn to junior right hander Ty Floyd on the bump.