Sechrist, Snead blank Bulldogs to deliver series for Vols

Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee pitcher Zander Sechrist worked six scoreless innings Sunday afternoon to help pace the No. 5 Volunteers to a 7-0 downing of No. 22 Georgia at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee pitcher Zander Sechrist worked six scoreless innings Sunday afternoon to help pace the No. 5 Volunteers to a 7-0 downing of No. 22 Georgia at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Tennessee entered Sunday afternoon's finale against Georgia inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium hoping to at least cool down the Bulldogs' bats.

The Volunteers did that and much more in a 7-0 blanking that clinched the series. Georgia rocked Tennessee 16-2 in Friday night's opener that was halted after seven innings, and the Vols survived a 16-11 slugfest on Saturday night, but Zander Sechrist and Nate Snead never allowed the Bulldogs to get going in the rubber match.

Sechrist worked a career-high six innings, scattering just four hits, while Snead yielded two hits in his three innings of relief. The two combined to record eight strikeouts.

"My arm is going to hurt," Sechrist said afterward in a news conference. "I won't lie, but it kind of felt good. Being from Georgia, you could say it's personal, but I just went out there and did the best I could."

Sunday marked the first time Georgia had scored fewer than two runs all season.

The No. 5 Vols improved to 24-5 overall and to 5-4 in Southeastern Conference play, while No. 22 Georgia fell to 22-6 and 4-5. This is the first time Tennessee has been above .500 in SEC competition since winning its league opener at Alabama.

"That was a physical, impressive group in a lot of different ways," Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said. "We're fortunate to win the series, and you'll take it any way you can get it, but to shut them out is difficult to do."

Tennessee broke a scoreless deadlock in the fourth inning when Kavares Tears scored on a balk and Dylan Dreiling came home on Reese Chapman's sacrifice fly to center field. Dalton Bargo's home run to right in the fifth made it 3-0.

The Vols doubled their advantage to 6-0 in the seventh, with Chapman getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Hunter Ensley doubling to left to drive in two.

There is no midweek game ahead for Tennessee, which will resume play next weekend at Auburn looking to get Friday starting pitcher AJ Causey and Saturday starter Drew Beam back on track. Neither lasted three full innings against Georgia, with Causey allowing eight runs on seven hits and two walks, and with Beam yielding seven runs on eight hits and two walks.

"I've been around some good pitchers, and almost all of them have had it happen where they get run out of there early," Vitello said. "I'm anxious to see how they both pitch next weekend, because both of those guys are guys we need to realize we're lucky enough to have.

"I also look forward to the answer that's coming when there is a little extra determination from this weekend's frustration."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.

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