HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Billy Amick hit a three-run home run, catcher Cal Stark picked off a runner at third with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning and Aaron Combs struck out the final two batters with the tying run on second to help preserve top-seeded Tennessee’s 4-3 victory over defending champion LSU in the championship game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Sunday.

Tennessee (49-11), the regular-season SEC champions, notched their fifth conference championship since the tournament began in 1977, most recently winning it in 2022 and including three straight from 1993-95.

LSU (40-21), the 11th seed this season, has won a record 12 tourney titles, most recently in 2017 and including three in a row from 2008-10.

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-out home run by Jared Jones off AJ Russell in a one-inning start.

Tennessee moved in front in the third. Tigers starter Nate Ackenhausen retired the first two batters before giving way to Fidel Ulloa (2-2). Christian Moore greeted Ulloa with a single to right field and Blake Burke followed with a walk. Amick sent a 0-1 pitch over the wall in left field for a 3-1 lead.

Loy (2-0), who replaced Russell to begin the second for the Volunteers, went the next 4 2/3 innings. He allowed no runs on two hits and two walks, matching his career high with five strikeouts before giving way to Andrew Behnke with a runner on first base.

Behnke threw just one strike in nine pitches, walking two to load the bases, before making a quick exit. Kirby Connell took the mound to face pinch-hitter Ethan Frey. Stark took a second-pitch strike from Connell and fired the ball to Amick, who slapped a tag on a diving Tommy White for the final out.

The Volunteers added their final run in the seventh on Ensley’s two-out single. Ensley finished 4-for-4 with a double.

LSU made things interesting in the ninth after Connell was replaced by Combs with Hayden Travinski on second base after a one-out double. Steven Milam greeted Combs with a ground-rule double to right, scoring Travinski. Milam scored and Bingham reached second with the tying run after Amick misplayed Bingham’s hot shot at third for an error.

Combs struck out Ashton Larson and Alex Milazzo — the 8th and 9th batters in the order — swinging to end the game with his fifth save of the season.

Tennessee has made six College World Series appearances, two of them coming in the last three seasons. The Volunteers lost 3-2 to the Oklahoma Sooners in 1951 in their only appearance in the title game.

LSU, on the other hand, has appeared in the CWS 19 times, winning titles in 1991, 1993, 1996-97, 2000 and 2009 prior to last season.

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AP college sports: https://apnews.com/hub/college-sports