COLUMBIA, S.C. (WATE) — Tennessee will be the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament next week.
The Vols will have a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament after they were able to stave off a ninth-inning South Carolina rally Saturday, 5-4 and Kentucky was able to beat Vanderbilt.
The No. 21 Gamecocks (33-20, 16-14 in Southeastern Conference) had a baserunner on second with no outs but senior pitcher Sean Hunley struck out three straight batters to seal the win. It is the first series win in Columbia for the Tennessee program since 2006 and the sixth conference road series win this season.
Evan Russell and Luc Lipcius were 2 for 3 for the Vols. Connor Pavolony was 1 for 4 with a 3-run home run to make it 5-1 Vols in the fourth inning. Freshman Blade Tidwell got the win on the mound. He struck out 6 Gamecocks, gave up 6 hits and 4 earned runs in 7 innings.
No. 4 Tennessee (42-14, 20-10) was crowned SEC East champions after Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 7-5. It is the first time the Vols have finished atop the SEC East since 1997.
Tennessee will play the winner of the South Carolina-Alabama game after the conclusion of the 9:30 a.m. game on Wednesday, May 26., to begin the double-elimination portion of the SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks and Crimson Tide will play Tuesday. All games will be on the SEC Network.
No. 1 seed Arkansas, No. 3 seed Mississippi State, and No. 4 seed Vanderbilt also received byes.