OMAHA, Neb. – Another memorable season came to an end as Tennessee fell to No. 5 seed LSU, 5-0, in Tuesday’s NCAA Men’s College World Series elimination game at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha.
The Volunteers created multiple opportunities to tie the game or even take the lead, but we unable to find the big hit they needed against the Tigers’ pitching duo of Nate Ackenhausen and Riley Cooper, who combined to allow just six hits while totaling nine strikeouts over nine shutout innings.
Drew Beam kept UT within striking distance with 5.2 quality innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits and two walks while striking out nine, but was stuck with the loss. AJ Russell was also impressive in 1.1 innings of relief, retiring all four batters he faced. The freshman All-American finished his impressive debut campaign with a 0.89 ERA and 47 strikeouts while allowing just nine hits in 30.1 innings pitched.
Maui Ahuna was the only Vol with multiple hits on the night, finishing 2-for-4 with a double from the leadoff spot to extend his hitting streak to six games to end the year.
Jared Dickey, Griffin Merritt, Christian Moore and Blake Burke all had one hit as well for the Big Orange.
Dylan Crews led off the game with a walk and eventually came around to score on a single by Cade Beloso to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead, but Beam struck out Jordan Thompson with runners on second and third to prevent any further damage in the first.
Cal Stark started a two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth, reaching on a hit by pitch before advancing to third on a double by Ahuna, but Ackenhausen was able to get a fly out to right field to get out of trouble and keep LSU’s 1-0 lead intact.
After escaping the jam, the Tigers took advantage of a throwing error to double their lead. Tre’ Morgan led off the top of the sixth with a double before moving to third on a bunt single and scoring on the play when the throw to first sailed into foul territory. Beam walked the next batter but retired the next two before making way for Russell, who got Alex Milazzo to pop up to strand two runners in scoring position and limit the damage to just one run.
Tennessee’s best chance to tie the game came in the bottom of the seventh when the Vols loaded the bases with two outs, but Cooper was able to wiggle out of the jam with a groundout to first base to strand all three runners and preserve the two-run lead.
After LSU tacked on another run in the top of the eighth to pull ahead 3-0, UT tallied a pair of hits in the bottom of the inning, but a double play and another groundout ended the threat.
A Crews’ two-run homer in the top of the ninth sealed the win for LSU (50-16), who will go on to face top-seeded Wake Forest on Wednesday.
The Vols ended the year with a 44-22 overall record and finished 16-14 in the SEC despite starting league play 5-10. Tennessee has now won 40-plus games in each of the last four full seasons excluding the 2020 COVID year.