May 4, 2008
KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee baseball team mounted a furious rally in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, but it came up two runs short as 13th-ranked Vanderbilt posted a 10-8 win at Robert M. Lindsay Field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Trailing 10-5 entering the bottom of the ninth, Tennessee saw each of its first three batters in the inning score to make it a two-run game with no outs. First baseman Jeff Lockwood led off with his sixth home run of the season, third baseman Cody Brown followed with a basehit and freshman P.J. Polk delivered a pinch-hit, two-run homer.
Vanderbilt then brought hard-throwing closer Brett Jacobson to the mound, and the fireballer hit 98 mph on the stadium radar gun while retiring three of the four batters he faced to log his fourth save of the year.
Tennessee fell to 25-23 (11-13 SEC) with the loss and has eight regular-season games remaining to make a postseason push. Two weekends remain in Southeastern Conference play, with the Vols slated to host Kentucky next weekend before finishing at South Carolina May 15-17.
"We were in the thick of it and needed this series," UT head coach Todd Raleigh said. "Now our backs are against the wall a little bit. We've got to go out and get back on track. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. It?s do or die now."
Tennessee Freshman All-America candidate Kentrail Davis hit a pair of bombs Sunday to tie Doug Hecker (1990-92) for the most multi-homer games by a Vol in single-season since 1990. Hecker, a two-time All-America, had four multi-homer performances in 1991.
"Kentrail had two home runs and a triple," Raleigh said. "He had some good at-bats, and he's a great player. We need that."
After failing to score in the first seven innings in both Friday and Saturday's games, Tennessee got its offense working early Sunday. Davis tripled to right field before later scoring on an RBI sacrifice fly by catcher Yan Gomes in the bottom of the first inning.
Vanderbilt (34-13, 14-9 SEC) answered with a solo home run by catcher Shea Robin in the top of the second.
After Vols designated hitter Jarred Frazier was hit by a pitch and second baseman singled in the bottom of the third, Davis sent the first offering from Vandy starting pitcher Russell Brewer over the right-field wall to give Tennessee a 4-1 lead.
An RBI single by Commodores third baseman Pedro Alvarez in the fourth made it a two-run game, and an infield error later in the frame enabled Vanderbilt to load the bases with two outs. Steven Liddle then drew an RBI walk, and Brad French was hit by a pitch to bring in the tying run and knot the score at 4-4.
Davis put the Big Orange back on top with a solo bomb in the bottom of the fifth. It was the SEC Freshman of the Year candidate's 11th home run of the season, tying him with Todd Helton (1993-95) for fourth place on UT's all-time freshman list.
After a leadoff double by VU right fielder Dominic de la Osa in the seventh, Vols starting pitcher Ty'Relle Harris was lifted in favor of junior reliever Danny Wiltz. Vandy shortstop Ryan Flaherty re-tied the game shortly thereafter with an RBI basehit, and the Commodores took a 6-5 lead when another run crossed on a double-play ball by Robin. Vanderbilt capped its go-ahead seventh with an RBI single by Liddle.
Robin added a solo home run, his second of the day, in the top of the ninth, and the Commodores tacked on two more runs later in the inning to take a five-run lead into the bottom of the ninth. Though they didn't seem meaningful at the time, those final runs proved costly.
Harris earned a no-decision after allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts through six innings. Wiltz took the loss to fall to 3-2 on the year.
Vandy reliever Chase Reid upped his record to 4-0 with the win out of the bullpen.
Tennessee now leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt 162-139-2, dating to 1897.
The Vols' next action comes Wednesday at noon ET when they host intrastate rival Belmont.