Scoring nine runs before allowing a hit made for quite the effective blueprint Friday for the Tennessee Volunteers.
Two days after losing to Alabama 3-2 in 11 innings in the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament, the Vols ripped off 11 hits and used a Blade Tidwell pitching masterpiece to smother the Crimson Tide 11-0 in a contest that was halted after seven innings due to the league's mercy rule.
Senior left fielder Evan Russell headed the onslaught by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and scoring three runs.
"You had a team that wasn't ready to go home, and you had a lineup that was ready to get back out there," Russell said afterward on a Zoom call. "I think that showed with the swings we took. Everybody was locked in and in attack mode, and I think that was the difference in this game."
It certainly was a drastically different result for Tidwell against the Tide.
During Tennessee's 9-8 outlasting of Alabama in Tuscaloosa on April 4, the freshman right-hander was roughed up for nine hits and five runs in five innings. Tidwell pitched six innings Friday, yielding two hits and striking out five batters.
"I've been thinking about that this week — that if I played them again, I was going to get my revenge," Tidwell said.
Tennessee's seven-inning blowout followed Thursday's 12-2 crushing of Mississippi State that was called after eight innings, so the second-seeded Vols will head into Saturday's showdown against sixth-seeded Florida (1 p.m. on the SEC Network) in better-than-expected shape from a stamina standpoint. The Vols (44-15) took two of three from the Gators (38-19) last month in Knoxville.
"This thing is a grind," Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said. "Your catchers are out there in this heat, so maybe the biggest takeaway from these last two days is that we do have some fresh arms going into tomorrow and more fresh legs underneath our position players."
The Gators have arrived at this point with a 13-1 pasting of Mississippi State in seven innings and a 7-2 dumping of Alabama.
Fifth-seeded Ole Miss (41-18), which eliminated fourth-seeded Vanderbilt with a 4-1 win Friday, will face No. 1 Arkansas (44-10) in Saturday's second semifinal. The championship game is Sunday.