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Tennessee Offense Silences Cowbells in Series-Opening Win Over Mississippi State

On a typical spring night at Dudy Noble Field, the metallic clanging of cowbells will drown out any other noise within the vicinity.

Not on Thursday, though.

Instead, Mississippi State’s rallying noise was replaced a different dinthe sound of seven Tennessee home runs — as the top-ranked Vols shellacked the Bulldogs 27-2 to open their final conference series of the season with a bang.

That amount of home runs ties a season-high for bombs in a single game, and the 27 runs mark the most runs UT has ever scored against an SEC opponent.

It also notches more runs than the Vols had scored in all nine of Tennessee’s previous games in Starkville combined.

Back-to-back-to-back to Burke

Luc Lipcius opened the scoring with an opposite-field shot for a 1-0 lead, Jordan Beck went yard for a 2-0 advantage, and Drew Gilbert put a cherry on the top of the first inning to put the Vols up 3-0.

It was the second time this season that UT (47-7, 23-5) has smacked three consecutive home runs.

The score remained the same until the third frame, at which point Gilbert hit a sacrifice fly for a 4-0 lead before a Jorel Ortega RBI put the Vols up 5-0.

Then Blake Burke stepped to the plate, the designated hitter having unleashed a monster effort through the last few games.

Thursday was no different — Burke slammed a three-run shot for an 8-0 advantage in the third.

No rest for the weary

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Tennessee plated three more runs in the fifth — one off an Evan Russell single, two more off the bat of red-hot Seth Stephenson — for an 11-0 lead on 14 hits to chase Mississippi State starter Brandon Smith.

Jorel Ortega followed suit with a three-run bomb in the top of the sixth — putting UT up 14-0 — before Lipcius hammered his second home run of the night for a 16-0 lead in the seventh.

The Vols used some clutch hitting to add five more runs in the same frame, and Ortega sliced a two-run homer in the eighth — Tennessee’s seventh of the night to tie a season-high in bombs — to answer an MSU homer that had cut UT’s lead to 20.

Logan Steenstra knocked a three-run double in the top of the ninth, then Ortega came through again with a two-out double for a 27-2 lead after the Bulldogs had tacked on another run.

Ortega led Tennessee with a 5-for-7 effort from the plate with two home runs, two doubles and eight RBI.

His four base hits tie a program record for most base bits in a game, per Ben McKee of VolQuest.

Dollander dominates, late pitching struggles

As for the Vols’ pitching, starter Chase Dollander was as impressive on the mound as Tennessee was at the plate.

The Georgia Southern transfer gave up no walks and one hit, striking out six in six innings of work.

A long seventh frame paved the way for Mark McLaughlin, who allowed the aforementioned run before Wyatt Evans wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam.

Evans allowed a solo homer from Tanner Leggett in the bottom of the eighth, as Leggett flipped his bat toward the Vols’ dugout.

Still, it was Tennessee’s offense that left the greatest echo throughout the night.

The Vols will look to take the series in Game 2, which can be seen on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.