Chase Dollander carves up LSU as Tennessee baseball reaches SEC Tournament semifinals

Mike Wilson
Knoxville News Sentinel

HOOVER, Ala. — Chase Dollander screamed and flexed leaving the mound.

The Tennessee baseball ace had hurled a 98 mph fastball past LSU's Tre' Morgan, ending the Tigers' fifth-inning threat with an emphatic strikeout.

"I kind of blacked out a little bit," Dollander said. "It just kind of came over me to do it and I did it. I let it out."

Dollander wasn't done. He struck out five of the final six batters he faced in another dominant performance. Dollander led No. 1 Tennessee (51-7) to a 5-2 win against No. 4 LSU (38-19) at Hoover Met and a second straight appearance in the SEC Tournament semifinals. 

"He was the same as he has been, which is excellent," Vols coach Tony Vitello said. 

Tennessee faces the winner of LSU and Kentucky in the final game Saturday. The Tigers and Wildcats play the second game Saturday. 

Chase Dollander, ace 

Dollander struck out the side in the first inning, setting the tone for another sterling outing. 

The SEC pitcher of the year had nine strikeouts with two walks in 6⅔ innings. He allowed two runs — one earned — on four hits. He said he was especially effective late in his start due to a change in approach.

"I just think I was attacking more than I was in the earlier innings," Dollander said. "Just trying to get ahead with strikes and manipulate the ball whichever way I want to."

Dollander has not allowed more than one earned run in a start since March 9 against Missouri. 

The Vols responded impressively in the fifth

LSU trimmed Tennessee's lead to 3-2 in the fifth, but the Vols hit back with their two most steady performers of late.

Drew Gilbert smacked an RBI single to right to score Luc Lipcius from second after an infield single and a stolen base. Jorel Ortega nailed a two-out double into the left-field corner to score Gilbert to restore Tennessee's three-run lead.

Tennessee's defense giveth and taketh

Tennessee had a pair of big defensive plays Thursday against Vanderbilt. It had another pair of key plays in the field Friday.

Jordan Beck made a sliding catch in the right-field corner on a tailing fly ball from LSU's Collier Cranford. The play saved a pair of runs in the second. Cortland Lawson snared a liner from Morgan in the third with two runners on.

But the Vols had defensive issues in the fifth leading to a pair of LSU runs. Seth Stephenson bobbled a double in left field, allowing a run score. Lawson booted a grounder and threw it away, allowing another run to score. 

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.