KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For years during their high school days at Barbe, Beau Jordan batted in front of his twin brother, Bryce.
Naturally, Bryce often received a plunking from the pitcher following his brother’s at-bat. Maybe Beau had slammed a home run, rocketed a double or drawn a four-pitch walk. Either way, Beau did something to rile up the pitcher, and Bryce paid the price.
On Sunday, it was Beau’s turn.
He got plunked after his brother followed a crushing home run with a backward sashay down the first-base line, a celebratory moonwalk that ticked Tennessee off.
The next batter, Greg Deichmann, banged a run-scoring triple off the center-field wall.
“Worked out good for us,” a smiling Beau Jordan said afterward.
LSU bashed Tennessee for the second straight game. Jordan and Antoine Duplantis homered, Cole Freeman and Deichmann tripled and the Tigers swept a second straight Southeastern Conference series with a 10-7 win on a sun-splashed afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
LSU (36-16, 17-10 Southeastern Conference) won its eighth straight game and got a second straight SEC series sweep, a first since 2013. The Tigers mashed 11 hits a day after a 13-hit, 11-run win over the slumping Vols (26-26, 7-20), getting key hits from Deichmann and Duplantis during a lead-taking eighth inning.
But first there was sixth-inning drama as LSU took a 6-2 lead.
Jordan crushed Aaron Soto’s 2-1 pitch, following it with an obvious swagger that riled up the Volunteers. Third baseman Nick Senzel barked something at Jordan as he rounded third base.
Soto plunked the next batter, who just so happened to be Bryce’s twin brother. Home plate umpire Ricky Armstrong quickly ran between Soto and Jordan to prevent any interaction.
There was none. Beau wasn’t surprised. He braced for impact at the plate after his brother’s strut.
He predicted the old-fashioned payback plunking — and so did everyone else.
“You kind of knew it was coming,” Deichmann said.
Bryce apologized for his post-homer celebration, he said.
“It was overdone. Heat of the moment,” he said.
But did he apologize to his brother for getting him hit?
“Heck no!” he laughed. “I got hit nonstop in high school.”
All the while, the Tigers continued their winning and hitting streaks.
They reeled off two weeks’ worth of victories at the most critical time of the year. Their eight straight wins are the Tigers’ longest regular-season streak in three years, excluding the season-opening nonconference portion of the schedule. And the Tigers rolled up 10-plus hits in back-to-back SEC games during the same series for the first time since May 2014.
It keeps coach Paul Mainieri’s team in position to crack the top four in the final SEC standings, which might prove significant in hosting an NCAA regional or, Mainieri contends, receiving a top-eight national seed. The Tigers entered Sunday’s games with an RPI of 11, according to D1baseball.com, and they exited in a tie for fifth in the Southeastern Conference with one week left. Starting Thursday is a crucial series at Alex Box Stadium against Florida, the top-ranked team in some polls and the league leader.
“You could conceivably see a situation that, if we get the job done against Florida, we could be in the top four in the league. It’s amazing because I’m sure a lot of people would have been surprised to hear that three weeks ago,” Mainieri said. “I said two weeks ago, when we had 12 games left, that if we do the job in these next eight games, we can make the last week at The Box very exciting. I think we’ve set that stage for that.”
On Sunday, the Tigers overcame an unsteady three-inning start from true freshman Caleb Gilbert and seven walks from their four pitchers, who helped the Volunteers recover from a 6-2 deficit.
Tennessee put two up in the sixth and two more in the seventh, getting to relievers Austin Bain and Parker Bugg before LSU’s eighth-inning rally.
With the score tied at 6, Chris Reid walked to lead off the eighth. Bryce Jordan bunted Reid over, and then Beau grounded out to get him to third. Deichmann sent his first pitch through the right side for the go-ahead run, and then Duplantis smacked just the second homer of his college career, a three-run shot to make it 10-6.
“This team’s clicking right now, and we’re rolling,” Beau Jordan said. “It feels good.”
Hunter Newman closed the game, retiring six of eight in a two-inning stay.
The Tigers continued their sizzling stretch after a skid. They have scored 21 runs in 18 innings after putting up six runs in the previous 27.
Maybe that’s what got into Bryce Jordan. He’s just so darn excited.
“We knew we had the capability to get a good run on in the SEC,” he said. “We’re coming out hitting.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.