Blade Tidwell- Baseball

KNOXVILLE, TN - April 18, 2021 - Pitcher Blade Tidwell #29 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

The No. 5 Tennessee baseball team completed the sweep of Mizzou with a 10-2 win Sunday afternoon. The Vols’ offense backed an excellent effort from Blade Tidwell, and they completed their first series sweep since March 26-28 against LSU.

Mizzou took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, after the Vols loaded the bases but failed to score in the top of the inning. Josh Holt Jr. led off with a single against Tidwell and then stole second. He moved to third on a groundout and later scored on Auston Keefer’s sacrifice fly.

Tidwell struck the next man out to end the inning, but the Vols were staring down an early deficit, after he allowed the fourth first-inning run in his last four games.

The Vols did not trail for long, as they scored three times in the second to take a lead they would never relinquish. Jordan Beck and Jackson Greer both walked, and with two outs, Max Ferguson launched a three-run home run that put the Vols on top. It was the second baseman’s seventh long ball of the year, putting an exclamation mark on a fantastic weekend in which he batted .636 with two homers, three walks, six RBIs and five runs scored.

Tennessee added another run in the third on Evan Russell’s RBI double, before putting up a pair of three-run innings in the fifth and sixth. Drew Gilbert and Russell each had an RBI double in the fifth,and Beck capped the inning with a run-scoring sacrifice fly.

In the sixth, Jake Rucker drove in a run with a single, and the next batter Gilbert topped off the Vols’ offensive burst with a two-run fielder’s choice. Rucker went 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Gilbert ended his strong weekend with four-hit effort. The centerfielder batted an even .600 for the series with four doubles and six RBIs.

Tidwell was given a multiple run cushion after allowing the first inning run, but he hardly needed the extra insurance, as he turned in his best start since March 21 against Georgia. The righty went seven innings and gave up just one hit and no runs after the first inning, retiring the last nine batters he faced. Tidwell only walked two and struck out five Tigers, giving him a team-high 58 punchouts on the season.

With the win, the Vols move past Vanderbilt into first place in the SEC East at 17-7, their best record through 24 conference games since 1995. They are tied with Arkansas for the best record in the conference, and their 37 total wins is the second most in the nation.

Tennessee will conclude its home regular-season with a five-game home stand, beginning with Tennessee Tech this Tuesday night. The Vols are in control their own destiny down the home stretch, but it won’t be easy. After Tennessee Tech, the Vols will host No. 1 Arkansas before ending their season in South Carolina.

Each win of the season’s final weeks will be ultra-important for the Vols, as they look to return to the postseason for the first time since 2019.

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