Baseball Preview: SEC Tournament

Credit: UT Athletics

HOOVER, Ala. – No. 9 seed Tennessee begins its postseason run on Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. ET against No. 8 seed Auburn in the SEC Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

The Volunteers enter the tournament as the No. 9 seed and are making their first appearance in Hoover since 2016. They will be looking to win a game in the tournament for the first time since 2007.

Broadcast Info
Tuesday, May 21

TV: SEC Network
Talent: Tom Hart (PxP) | Kyle Peterson (Analyst) | Todd Walker (Analyst) | Kris Budden (Field)
Game Time: 5:30 p.m. ET

Projected Starting Pitchers
Tennessee: TBA
Auburn: TBA

SEC Tournament History
Appearances: 15 (Last in 2016)
Tournament Titles: 3 (1993, 1994, 1995)
Overall Record: 25-24 (.510)

UT’s last victory in the SEC Tournament came in the first round in 2007 when the Big Orange defeated Vanderbilt, 6-4. After a dominant run from 1993-95, the Vols are just 4-15 in the tournament since 1996.

Need to Know

  • Tennessee went 3-1 to finish the regular season last week with a Tuesday win over Tennessee Tech and another important series win at home over No. 15 Ole Miss.
  • With the two victories over the Rebels and other results around the league, UT secured the No. 9 seed in this week’s SEC Tournament and finished third in the SEC Eastern Division standings, the highest finish for the Vols since coming in second back in 2005.
  • Tennessee’s 38 total wins and 14 conference victories are the most for the program since 2005, which is the last time the Vols made the NCAA Tournament, making a run to the program’s fourth College World Series.
  • The Vols set a couple of milestones in their midweek win over Tennessee Tech last Tuesday. UT stole a season-high 13 bases in the contest, one shy of the school record set back in 1990.
  • With the win over the Golden Eagles, the Vols finished the 2019 regular season with an impressive 13-1 record in midweek games, outscoring their opponents by a 112-36 margin. Tennessee also finished the year with 24-2 record in non-conference play. The 24 non-conference regular-season wins are the most since the program posted 30 in 2000.
  • With a 7-0 blanking of the Rebels on Thursday night, the Vols tied the program’s single-season record for shutouts with 10. UT is tied with UCLA for the national lead in shutouts this season.
  • In Thursday’s victory, ace Garrett Stallings was phenomenal, tossing his second complete-game shutout of the year. The junior right hander allowed just four hits, had seven strikeouts and did not issue a walk to improve to 8-3 on the year.
  • Stallings earned SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week honors for his efforts. He is now just the third player in program history to be named conference pitcher of the week twice in the same season, joining James Adkins (2007) and Luke Hochevar (2005).
  • With three stolen bases in Friday’s 7-5 win over Ole Miss, Tennessee reached the 100-steal mark for the year, marking the first time the Vols have stolen 100 or more bases in a season since stealing 113 bags in 2005.
  • With seven steals last week, Jay Charleston moved into fifth on the program’s career stolen bases listed (64). He also moved into a tie for 10th on the UT single-season steals list with 38 and leads the SEC in steals by a significant margin.
  • Junior slugger Andre Lipcius had another big week at the plate, batting .438 with a team-high seven hits, two homers and five RBI. His solo home run in Thursday’s win over Ole Miss was his 16th of the year, the most by a UT player in a single season since Cody Hawn had 22 back in 2009. Lipcius has eight dingers in his last 17 games.
  • Tennessee’s bats have been red hot over the past month. The Vols have scored five or more runs in 13 of their last 18 games while scoring eight-plus runs nine times in that span. They have also recorded double-digit runs seven times in their last 18 games.
  • With five strikeouts in Saturday’s contest against Ole Miss, Tennessee’s pitching staff passed the 500-strikeout mark for the season (503). The last time the Vols struck out 500-plus batters in a season was 2005 when they struck out a school-record 568.

Opponent Scout
Auburn Tigers (32-23, 14-16 SEC)

  • 2018 Record: 43-23 (15-15 SEC)
  • 2018 Postseason: NCAA Gainesville Super Regional (1-2)
  • Auburn finished sixth in the SEC Western Division after being picked to finish fourth in the division in the SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
  • The Tigers are coached by Butch Thompson, who is in his fourth season leading the program. He has led AU to a 135-105 record since taking over as head coach in October of 2015.
  • Auburn enters the tournament as the No. 8 seed after posting a 14-16 record in conference play. The Tigers posted just four wins over their final 12 conference games after securing 10 victories in their first 18 SEC contests.
  • Edouard Julien leads the Tigers with eight homers and 45 RBI while Connor Davis leads the team with a .298 batting average and 61 hits.
  • Freshman Ryan Bliss finished the season strong and ranks second on the team with a .277 batting average to go along with 10 stolen bases.
  • The duo of Tanner Burns and Jack Owen have paced the Tigers’ pitching staff this season with four wins apiece. Owen leads the team with a 2.37 ERA while Burns isn’t far behind at 2.80. Burns’ 95 strikeouts lead the team and are tied for ninth in the SEC.

On Deck for the Vols
With a win, Tennessee would advance to the double-elimination portion of the tournament and face the No. 1 seed Vanderbilt on Wednesday, May 22 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

 

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