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HOOVER, Alabama — Tennessee’s No. 1 is two wins away from his first SEC Tournament championship.
Sophomore right-hander Chase Dollander kept a competitive LSU team at bay throughout the night for a 5-2 win Friday in front of about 8,000 fans at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium to advance to the semifinals.
The Volunteers (51-7) play Game 4 on Saturday around 9 p.m. ET against the winner of Kentucky and LSU, who will play a playoff game by mid-afternoon. A victory there, and the Vols will reach their second straight match for the tournament title. Tennessee lost the championship game to Arkansas last year and previously won just three East Division titles from 1993-95.
The championship game is at 3 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2. All other games are on the SEC network.
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The tournament opens Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with No. 7 seed Florida (37-21) and No. 11 seed Alabama (31-26). 12 seed, will face LSU (38-19) 30 minutes after the end of this game. The Florida-Alabama winner will face second seed Texas A&M (37-17) at 5:30 p.m.
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The Vols wasted no time in electrifying the volunteer-dominated crowd. Dollander retired the team in the top of the first inning. He finished with nine strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings, allowing four hits and one earned run for the win to go 9-0 on the season.
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The Tigers’ two runs in the fifth to cut their deficit to 3-2 were both helped by errors from left fielder Seth Stephenson and shortstop Cortland Lawson.
LSU was limited as top hitters Jacob Berry and Cade Doughty did not play for the second straight game due to injuries.
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Then, Tennessee got to work late in the first period as Jordan Beck tripled into right field, scoring a walked Luc Lipciius for a 1-0 lead. After a wild pitch from LSU starter Ty Floyd, Beck scored for a 2-0 advantage. Floyd took the loss to drop to 5-4.
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The Vols pushed that to 3-0 in the second on a goal-laden walk from Floyd to Jordan Beck. After LSU cut it to 3-2 in the top of the fifth, Tennessee scored two runs in the bottom half on an RBI single from Drew Gilbert and an RBI double from Jorel Ortega that chased Floyd.