HOOVER, Ala. - Late offense and a stellar bullpen outing from Chase Burns lifted the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers to a 12-2 victory over Kentucky Saturday night into Sunday morning at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in the 2022 SEC Tournament semifinals.
Tennessee (52-7) earned its second consecutive appearance in the SEC Tournament championship game. The Vols are looking to bounce back after falling in last year's finale, 7-2, to Arkansas. UT is shooting for the fourth SEC Tournament title in program history, with the last tourney crown coming in 1995, the same year UT last won the regular-season championship.
Early in the contest, it was a pitcher's duel. Drew Beam started on the rubber for the Vols and gave 3.1 strong innings of work. He allowed just two hits and struck out six, his most since the Alabama victory on April 17. Chase Burns was masterful in relief for the Big Orange.
The true freshman turned in 4.2 innings and punched out eight, including a handful of strikeouts in high-leverage spots. His impact was felt early when he stranded an inherited runner on third and the tying run on second. The talented right-hander got his second of eight strikeouts with an elevated fastball to end the fourth inning and duplicated that success in the eighth inning when he also stranded a Wildcat runner on third, punching out the UK hitter with a sweeping slider.
Tennessee jumped on the board first as Jordan Beck curled a line drive down the left field line and scampered to third for his second triple in as many days. Almost a mirror image of the night before, Beck crossed the plate just a pitch later as Kentucky starter Magdiel Cotto tossed one in the dirt that ricochet off the catcher and up the third-base line, allowing UT's right fielder to score. In the fourth inning, UT would score again as Trey Lipscomb recorded his first RBI of the night, poking one through the left side sending home Beck.
An inning later, Kentucky would even the score with back-to-back doubles, followed by a wicked breaking ball that got a swinging strike three, but it skipped to the backstop allowing a run home and the batter to reach first base.
The offense kicked into gear in the eighth and ninth innings. Luc Lipcius and Beck started the inning with back-to-back singles, both coming off the bat over 107 mph. Lipscomb loaded the bases and Jorel Ortega and Cortland Lawson capitalized, each driving in runs in a four-run frame.
The ninth added padding as UT plated six runs and capped the scoring in style as Blake Burke launched a two-run moonshot home run 401 feet, flying high out of the stadium with two outs in the ninth inning.
Wyatt Evans locked down the semifinal victory by striking out the side looking in the home half of the ninth inning.
UP NEXT: Tennessee faces Florida in the 2022 SEC Tournament finale at 2 p.m. CT/3 p.m. ET at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Fans can purchase tickets to the contest here, or can watch the game on ESPN2.