Regional play is in the books as the Super Regional weekend of the NCAA Tournament provides 16 teams with hopes of reaching Omaha, Nebraska, for a shot at glory.
Two of those teams meet for the second time this season. And this round is sure to offer plenty of storylines to fill pages on newspapers and digital spaces.
The Tennessee Volunteers host the LSU Tigers in what will be a monumental matchup that places at least one team from the Southeastern Conference in the College World Series. One legend looks to fade into the sunset with one last CWS appearance. Another coach seems to be blossoming into a star, and perhaps building a legacy of his own on Rocky Top.
Here are all the notes you need to prep for this NCAA Super Regional showdown.
On The Mound
- The Vols come into the weekend leading SEC teams with a 3.42 ERA. They have done so by also logging the most innings of work out of any squad in the conference, with 579.2 IP.
- LSU brings a 4.40 ERA into Knoxville. Junior Landon Marceaux leads the SEC – and ranks third in the NCAA – with 99.2 IP and holds a 2.44 ERA, which is good for fourth in the league.
- Tennessee’s lead pitcher, Chad Dallas, has a career record of 13-1. The Vols are averaging over six runs per game when the junior takes the bump. In his last outing against the Tigers, Dallas went 7 innings, allowing only 5 hits and a run. He struck out 11 and walked one batter in a 3-1 victory.
- The Volunteers and Bayou Bengals have two premier relievers as well. Senior Devin Fontenot has been superb for LSU of late. Fontenot hasn’t allowed a hit in his last three appearances (6.0 IP). Senior Sean Hunley is UT’s primary arm out of the pen. Before giving up four runs on six hits to Wright State last weekend, Hunley had given up just two scores in his previous 9.0 IP. The Vol senior leads the SEC in walks allowed, with just 11 BB on the year. Hunley leads the SEC with 32 relief appearances.
At The Plate
- Both teams can slug with the best. Tennessee ranks first in the conference in doubles (128) and second in home runs (102). LSU is second in the league in triples (17). The Tigers have collected the most doubles and three bags in the tournament, with 12 combined since the start of tourney play.
- The Vols are averaging over three home runs per game in the tournament, so far. And they seem to have a knack for coming up with big hits in the clutch. Sophomore Drew Gilbert sent fans into a frenzy with a walk-off grand slam to start regional play last weekend.
- The Tigers are on pace for seven runs per game since going scoreless in their first game of the tournament.
- Some lefties have been hot for UT. Senior Luc Lipcius has reached base in six straight games, scoring seven runs and collecting eight hits in that span. He bats primarily out of the sixth spot. Gilbert has fared well of late, aside from the grand slam. The sophomore has an eight-game hit streak and is batting .281 on the year. The Vols’ clean-up hitter has homered in three straight games.
- Tennessee is fifth in the NCAA with 323 BB.
- Freshman Dylan Crews has provided quite the spark for LSU during his first season in Baton Rouge. Hitting .361 on the season, the utility has the most bases on the team (154). He also has 16 homers to go along with 40 RBI.
- Junior Gavin Dugas leads the Bayou Bengals in home runs (19) and RBI (66). He’s scored seven runs the past four games.
- The two teams squared off in Knoxville earlier this season, resulting in a sweep for the Vols. It was Tennessee’s first series win over LSU since 2008.
- Tigers’ head coach Paul Mainieri called UT fans “nasty” and said that the environment at Lindsey Nelson Stadium was “hostile.” The series wrapped up on March 28, when the park was operating with limited capacity.
- Vols’ head coach Tony Vitello – along with senior outfielder, Evan Russell – responded to that type of sentiment by accepting the role of being “villains.”
- LSU has taken on a moniker of its own. According to Mainieri, his team has labeled themselves “road dogs” due to their success away from Alex Box stadium. The Tigers are 12-7 on the road, while the Volunteers are 16-5.
- UT won every series away from Lindsey Nelson this year. The two sets the Vols dropped happened at home against Arkansas and Vanderbilt. The only time Tennessee lost consecutive games occurred on the same day, as it dropped both games of a double-header versus Indiana State.
- This is Mainieri’s last ride. He is looking to take LSU to Omaha for the sixth time. Mainieri has over 1400 wins in his coaching career, including 603 victories that he has racked up for the Tigers in 14 seasons. LSU won the NCAA championship in 2009 and was runners-up in 2017.
- Vitello has a ton of momentum going, as Vol fans are rallying around a coach who has won 132 games since touching down on Rocky Top in 2018. It’s Tennessee’s first NCAA Super Regional appearance since 2005.