It's hard to lose when the other team can't score.
Tennessee, the No. 2 team in the country according to Collegiate Baseball, completed a sweep of South Carolina on Sunday afternoon with an emphatic 10-0 drubbing inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Volunteers won their three games over the Gamecocks by a combined count of 23-5 to improve to 19-1 this season and 3-0 in Southeastern Conference play.
Freshman pitcher Drew Beam polished off the weekend by allowing one hit before being pulled with two outs in the eighth inning.
"I had a good amount of command today, so it was good that I could work with any pitch," Beam told reporters after his SEC debut. "That was one of my best starts and one of my most fun starts, too."
Beam, a former Murfreesboro Blackman quarterback, recorded 15 flyouts, five groundouts and three strikeouts, and 67 of his 86 pitches were strikes. He took a perfect game into the seventh and helped Tennessee record its first one-hitter against a league opponent since 2005, when Luke Hochevar worked a complete game in a 2-1 downing of Auburn.
"He made it easy to be in the dugout," Vols coach Tony Vitello said. "You felt calm, and halfway through, you kind of felt like you're a fan jumping on the bandwagon. He's such a good athlete who competes and throws strikes."
Beam said he threw a perfect game at Blackman but that the run rule was involved, adding, "This trumps that one."
Tennessee's starting trio of freshman Chase Burns, sophomore Chase Dollander and Beam combined to pitch more than 19 innings against the Gamecocks, allowing six combined hits and two combined runs while striking out 19. Burns and Beam are each 4-0 this season, with Dollander 3-0.
"It was amazing - my first SEC experience with a home crowd," Burns said Friday. "It was something I've been waiting for."
The quality pitching by the Vols over the weekend - Tennessee won the first two games 8-3 and 5-2 - was matched by stout hitting as they collected 10 home runs. Evan Russell went deep twice Sunday, with Trey Lipscomb and Christian Moore homering once.
Tennessee continues to turn heads in this follow-up season to last year's run to the College Word Series, but Vitello knows style points against the Gamecocks won't mean anything these next two weekends, when the Vols visit No. 9 Ole Miss and No. 1 Vanderbilt. The Vols next play Tuesday at home against Butler.
"It's not a slam-dunk contest, unfortunately," Vitello said. "You don't get a 49 or a 44. A win is a win, and a loss is a loss, and in the big scheme of things, whether it's at home or on the road, you just want to scrap as many wins as you can in the league.
"You'll take your losses, so you have to handle those the right way, too."