Season over: No. 1 Tennessee completes sweep of Mississippi State

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May 21—STARKVILLE — There was nothing on the line for Mississippi State on Saturday, no NCAA seeding, no push for a bye in the SEC Tournament.

Win or lose the season was going to end, and it looked like a lot of other games this season.

No. 1 Tennessee completed a series sweep with a 10-5 win at Dudy Noble Field.

It's the fourth time this season the Bulldogs have been swept — almost half of their 10 SEC series.

A year removed from the national championship Mississippi State (26-30, 9-21 SEC) finishes 0-for-May and on an 11-game losing streak in conference play.

The Vols (49-7, 25-5) finished one win shy of 50 regular season wins.

They opened up a 10-2 lead in the sixth with three runs on three hits against MSU reliever Jackson Fristoe.

Mississippi State had been outscored 41-7 in the series when it began to find success against the back end of the Tennessee bullpen with three runs over the seventh and eighth innings.

"There's a fine line between winning and losing, I can tell you that. You need a great bullpen if you're going to win in the SEC. That got us this year, not the kids, but the roles and building roles. We've got to do a good job of that in the off-season," MSU coach Chris Lemonis said.

In their finale the Bulldogs committed four errors and sustained another pitching injury, this one to starter Cade Smith who left after 22 pitches while not recording an out in the second.

Lemonis said he felt like his pitching staff was "running on fumes" at the end of the season. Without season-ending injuries sustained by the staff Lemonis said he felt this team was not necessarily an Omaha squad but likely in the NCAA Tournament.

"Totally different emotion for me. Last year we were on top of the world. Right now I feel like we're at the bottom. It's a terrible feeling," senior first baseman Luke Hancock said.

A lot happened in the second inning, none of it good for Mississippi State.

Drew Gilbert reached on a catcher's interference call against Logan Tanner and was on base to score on Luc Lipcius' home run to give the Vols a 2-1 lead.

Two batters later Blake Burke reached when Brad Cumbest and Lane Forsythe collided in shallow left-center. The ball dropped, and Cumbest left the game holding his chin.

On the same play Smith was pulled and was favoring his pitching arm while he walked off the field. Pico Kohn took the mound.

Lemonis said pulling Smith, a sophomore from Southaven, was a precautionary move.

"I don't think it was anything crazy. We're just trying to be smart. Cade's got a big future in this game," Lemonis said.

In the fourth the Bulldogs were unable to execute when Lipcius hung himself up between first and second. Seth Stephenson broke for home, and Luke Hancock's throw was way over the head of Tanner.

State's third error gave the Vols a 6-2 lead, and Lipcius ended up at third.

MSU took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RJ Yeager home run.

PARRISH ALFORD is the college sports editor and columnist for the Daily Journal. Contact him at parrish.alford@journalinc.com.