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Tennessee baseball tops LSU in Game 1 of super regional, one win from College World Series

Will Backus
Knoxville News Sentinel

LSU pitcher Ma’Khail Hillard kept Tennessee baseball mostly quiet through five solid innings of pitching in Game 1 of the Knoxville Super Regional on Saturday. 

But with a one-run lead, the Tigers made the decision to pull Hillard in the sixth in favor of reliever Javen Coleman, who spent almost 50 minutes warming up in the bullpen.

It’s the move that allowed the Vols to pounce on a fresh arm with no momentum, scoring three runs en route to a 4-2 victory at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Tennessee (49-16) can advance to the College World Series with a win in Game 2 of the best-of-three series Sunday at 3 p.m. (ESPN2). If the Vols lose, an advance-or-go-home game will be played Monday. 

[ On cusp of College World Series, Tony Vitello and his Vols remind us patience is for losers | Toppmeyer ]

Coleman retired the first batter he faced in the decisive sixth, before walking Max Ferguson and giving up a double to Jake Rucker in the next two at-bats. 

Tennessee infielder Drew Gilbert reached on a fielder's choice to bring Ferguson home and tie the game at 2-2, and Luc Lipcius brought Rucker home on another fielder's choice. 

Gilbert scored the final run of the inning on a Jordan Beck single to right field. 

Dallas deals

Junior pitcher Chad Dallas turned in one of the best games of his career in Tennessee’s most important game of the season. He set a career high in strikeouts with 12 through six innings, striking out at least two batters in four of those frames. 

LSU only scored one earned run against Dallas — a solo home run from Cade Doughty in the middle of a downpour. 

Follow Will Backus on Twitter @will_backus1