Tennessee baseball sweeps Kentucky; first conference road sweep since 2010

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- No. 22 Tennessee completed its third series sweep of the season with an 8-2 victory over Kentucky in Saturday's series finale at Kentucky Proud Park.

A pair of four-run innings propelled the Volunteers to the win as they earned their first road series sweep in Southeastern Conference play since April of 2010 at Georgia.

It was a pitcher's duel early on as starting pitchers Zach Linginfelter and Zack Thompson were both dominant through five innings, allowing just three combined hits in that span.

Things started to unravel for Thompson in the top of the sixth, however, as all nine batters came to the plate for UT in the inning. The junior left hander hit three batters and allowed two hits as the Vols put up a four spot to break up the shutout. Two of the four runs were unearned due to an error by Wildcats' third baseman Breydon Daniel, who entered the game in the third inning for an injured Coltyn Kessler.

Andre Lipcius got the scoring started with a bases-loaded RBI ground out and Alerick Soularie followed with a two-run double to make it 3-0. Evan Russell drove in the final run of the inning with an RBI single to the right-center field gap to score Soularie from second and give the Vols a four-run lead.

Kentucky responded with a pair of solo home runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the deficit in half. Zeke Lewis hit his first-career homer with one out before Ryan Shinn narrowed the Vols' lead to two runs with a blast to left field with two away.

Freshman Camden Sewell pitched the Vols out of a tight spot in the bottom of the seventh, entering the game after Linginfelter gave up a double to Austin Schultz to start the inning. Sewell got T.J. Collett to fly out to center, caught Schultz trying to steal third base and struck out Dalton Reed to get Tennessee out of the jam unscathed.

Linginfelter improved to 6-4 on the year after a really solid outing, allowing two runs on just five hits and no walks in six innings of work. The junior right hander added four strikeouts on the day.

After a scoreless seventh, Tennessee scored four more times in the eighth to put the game out of reach. Jake Rucker drove in a run with an RBI fielder's choice before Justin Ammons singled to left center to plate two more runs. Ammons ended up scoring on a wild pitch later in the inning to make it 8-2.

Soularie and Ammons led the team with two RBI apiece while Russell also had a good day at the dish with two hits, an RBI and a run scored.

The Vols handed Thompson his first loss of the season, tagging the lefty for four runs (two earned) on four hits over seven innings. Thompson had nine strikeouts but also had a walk and hit three batters.

HOW SWEEP IT IS: After securing its first SEC road series win of the Tony Vitello era last night, Tennessee completed the series sweep on Saturday afternoon, it's second series sweep in league play under Vitello after winning all three games against Alabama at home last season. It was the first road series sweep by the Vols in conference play since April 7-9, 2010 at Georgia.

The Big Orange now have three series sweeps this season after recording two straight to open the year against Appalachian State and Indiana. This weekend's sweep was the first against Kentucky since 2004 and the first in Lexington since 2001.

30-WIN MARK: With Saturday's victory, Tennessee reached the 30-win mark for the first time since 2014 when the team finished with a 31-23 record. The Vols have 30 wins in 41 games this season, the fastest the program has reached the 30-win plateau since doing it in 39 games back in 2004.

CLUTCH HITTING: The Big Orange came up with a handful of big hits on Saturday afternoon, going 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position. UT also had three two-out hits on the day.

UP NEXT: The Big Orange return home for a Tuesday midweek contest against Gardner Webb. First pitch will be at 6 p.m. and the game will be streamed online via SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app. Fans can also listen live as John Wilkerson call the action for the Vol Radio Network (AM 990).