Tennessee has been so dominant through the first six weeks of the season that coach Tony Vitello said it probably was good the Volunteers had a one-run game in the finale of their road sweep of previously top-ranked Mississippi.
“No team in the country has any interest in peaking early in the season,” Vitello said, “and the way that happens is you go through some adversity.”
Redmond Walsh struck out the side with the tying and winning runs on base in the ninth inning Sunday to secure the Vols’ 4-3 win.
Otherwise, Tennessee has mostly gone unchallenged while winning 23 of its first 24 and starting 6-0 in Southeastern Conference play. The Vols have won 15 straight since a 7-2 loss to then-No. 1 Texas. Of their 23 wins, 15 have been decided by seven or more runs.
The Vols, the new No. 1 team in three major polls Monday, have shown no weaknesses. They lead the nation in batting average (.338), home runs (64) and slugging (.683) and are second in scoring (11.1 runs per game). They’re first in ERA (1.89) and eighth in fielding percentage (.977).
Troy Lipscomb leads the SEC with 10 homers and 44 RBIs, Chase Burns leads the conference with an 0.80 ERA and Drew Beam is third at 1.12, and Chase Dollander has struck out a league-high 54.
Tennessee has won seven straight SEC road series since 2019 and is coming off its first sweep of a No. 1-ranked team. The Vols have five sweeps this season, tying their 2021 total.
The Vols take center stage this week when they travel to Nashville for a three-game series against Vanderbilt (19-4, 4-2).
IN THE POLLS
D1Baseball.com, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball newspaper rank Tennessee No. 1 this week.
D1Baseball has Arkansas (18-4) and Oregon State (17-5) as its Nos. 2 and 3 teams. Baseball America has Oregon State second and Virginia (22-2) third. Collegiate Baseball has Virginia and Vanderbilt behind the Vols.
ALL HAIL YALE’S GEHRI
Yale’s Jake Gehri slugged an Ivy League-record four home runs, including two grand slams, and had 11 RBIs in a 13-6 win over Princeton on Sunday. He hit a two-run homer in the second inning, a grand slam in the third, a solo homer in the sixth and his second slam in the seventh.
Gehri had entered the day batting .184 with no homers and three RBIs in 16 games.
4 IN A ROW
Michigan set a Big Ten record with four straight home runs in the fifth inning of Friday’s 13-9 loss at Nebraska. Matt Frey, Jimmy Obertop, Ted Burton and Tito Flores went deep with two outs, all off Nebraska starter Koty Frank.
BRUINS’ BIG DOINGS
UCLA won a series at Arizona for the first time since 2012, holding one of the nation’s top offensive teams to a total of nine runs in three games.
The Bruins got strong starts from sophomore Jake Brooks and freshman Thatcher Hurd. Brooks allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings of Friday’s 10-2 win and Hurd allowed two runs in six innings of Sunday’s 7-3 win.
Texas Tech took two of three against Texas, with both of those wins coming on highlight-reel plays by Kurt Wilson.
Wilson stole home with two outs in the bottom of the 10th to give the Red Raiders a 5-4 win Friday. It was only his third steal of the season.
On Saturday, Wilson hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 10th for a 16-12 walk-off victory. It was his third homer of the season.
“I can’t express (how) I hate losing, definitely to the Texas Longhorns, to be honest with you,” he said. “So in that situation I’m doing my best, trying my best, to do whatever it takes to win.”
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