After losing two games to start the week, No. 1 Tennessee finished out the weekend 2-0, clinching the series over No. 24 Alabama.
The series win came behind a dominant 15-4 performance Sunday afternoon, and the Vols once again proved why they are the No. 1 team in the country through a plethora of home runs and strikeouts.
Tennessee was dominant on the mound and behind the plate Sunday.
Drew Beam was the starting pitcher once again, and he had his way with the Tide. The freshman righty spent six innings on the mound and allowed just 4 hits and recorded no walks on his way to 10 strikeouts.
The Vols went to Kirby Connell, Ben Joyce, Will Mabrey and Wyatt Evans in the final 3.2 innings and they allowed just two hits between them.
On offense, the Vols had a field day with an Alabama defense that has kept them relatively tame over the course of the weekend.
In the first two games of the series, the Vols had just 19 total hits. On Sunday, they had a total of 15 hits, returning to the dominant offense they have been all season.
Similar to most wins this season, Tennessee’s best friend was the long ball. The Vols left the yard four times on the afternoon as Jorel Ortega and Drew Beam hit one homer apiece and Trey Lipscomb sent two over the wall.
Ortega had a career day with a career-high 4 hits in 5 at bats, with a homer, 2 runs and 4 RBIs. Ortega finished the weekend with 8 total hits.
“He just seemed like he was in a good position to hit the whole time,” acting head coach Josh Elander said. “Heaters, change ups, breaking balls. He’s really confident with two strikes.”
Ortega, like many players on this Tennessee team, has had to wait his turn behind other players before getting his chance. This season, he’s gotten the start at second consistently and he’s made the most of it.
“Jorel – he’s always been a player – in the fall he brings the energy to the games,” Lipscomb said. “You’ve got to have him out there, he makes you feel comfortable on the field.”
Ortega has been at second most of the season, but he would play any position as long as he could make a difference on the field.
“I’ll do whatever I can to help the team,” Ortega said. “One, two, DH – I’ll bring water to anybody who needs it. Whatever I can do to help.”
Tennessee handled several tests over the course of the series; its first SEC loss, two coaches getting ejected on Saturday and some less than ideal officiating led to a tough weekend. But Tennessee proved by bouncing back from Friday night’s loss that it can handle adversity.
“Friday, they hit us with their best punch,” Lipscomb said. “Saturday there’s kind of a bunch of punches being thrown around and then Sunday it’s who’s going to bounce back and clear their head the fastest. I think we did good with that.”