KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The brooms were back out at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Sunday as No. 1 Tennessee squeaked by with a 4-3 win over Missouri to complete the series sweep.
Tennessee was led once again by true freshman standout Drew Beam, who tossed six scoreless innings before giving up a pair of runs in the seventh. Beam racked up a career-high seven strikeouts and picked up his team-leading seventh win of the season. The win also keeps him tied for first in both the SEC and the country.
For the Vols’ offense the charge was led by first baseman Luc Lipcius, who went 2-3 with a pair of home runs and three RBIs. Lipcius is now second on the team in home runs with nine, helping extend Tennessee’s home run numbers to a nation-leading 79.
Things got close for the Vols in the top of the ninth after Missouri put the go-ahead run up to bat, but closer Redmond Walsh was able to close the door and pick up his fifth save of the season, the 21st of his Tennessee career. Walsh now sits just two saves shy of the all-time record of 23 held by Todd Helton.
Along with the saves, Walsh now has a 1.67 ERA in 90 career appearances, marking him as one of the best pitchers in Tennessee history.
The Vols (31-1, 12-0 SEC) have now swept four straight SEC series to start conference play, the best mark in SEC history, and have tied a program record for series sweeps in a season with seven, which was set back in 1994. Tennessee also extended its win streak to an impressive 23 consecutive games, just one shy of the SEC record of 24 set by Texas A&M back in 2015.
With the recent success of the past two seasons, it can be difficult to remember where Tennessee’s program was before Tony Vitello became the head coach in 2018. In the decade prior to the start of the Vitello era, the Vols best mark in conference play was 12 wins, and now they have won 12 straight just half way through the season.
“It’s unbelievable how this program’s turned around,” said Walsh. “We used to celebrate winning one game and now taking three is the standard.”
The three-game set against Missouri proved to be the Vols’ toughest challenge of the season with two come from behind wins in the first two games, and a one-run win on Sunday. However, Tennessee seemed unfazed while flexing its depth, showing why they are the top-ranked team in the country.
“You’re never gonna have this game completely figured out,” said Vitello. “But I think (this group) is pretty good … They play with a lot of energy, you’ve just got to direct it in the right area.”
The Vols will look to continue their win streak on Tuesday as they head to Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tenn. to face Tennessee Tech for an instate matchup. It will be the second time the Vols and the Golden Eagles play this season, but the first official game as the first matchup was canceled due to rain. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. E.T.