HOOVER, Ala. — The Tennessee baseball team strengthened its NCAA Tournament resume` Wednesday with a 6-4 victory over top-seeded and nationally No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt in the 2007 SEC Tournament at Regions Park. The eighth-seeded Volunteers rode the left arm of junior ace James Adkins, who pitched 8 1/3 innings of one-hit ball while recording his seventh win of the season. The Big Orange improved to 34-23 while remaining in the tournament's winner's bracket.
Vanderbilt (46-11) added some ninth-inning drama following Adkins' departure, getting a three-run homer by third baseman Pedro Alvarez as part of a four-run frame. But the Vols managed to hold on for their 25th all-time SEC Tournament win.
Adkins (7-7) threw first-pitch strikes to 24 of the 28 batters he faced. His final line included two unearned runs on one hit with five strikeouts and a pair of walks. He improved his career strikeout total to 380 while logging his 25th career win.
In two career SEC Tournament starts at Regions Park, Adkins is 2-0 with 16 strikeouts and four hits allowed over 16 1/3 innings. He struck out 12 during a tournament win over South Carolina in 2005.
Centerfielder Julio Borbon led UT's 13-hit effort with a team-high three hits. Four other Vols added a pair of hits, including right fielder Andy Simunic and second baseman Tony Delmonico, who also scored two runs apiece. Tennessee recorded double-digit hits for the 11th time in its last 13 games.
The Vols loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first inning Wednesday, and an RBI sacrifice fly by Freshman All-SEC selection Jeff Lockwood plated leadoff man Simunic to open the game's scoring. Simunic and Borbon opened the inning with consecutive basehits, before a successful double-steal moved both runners into scoring position.
Simunic and Borbon each again logged hits to reach base in the fifth inning, both coming with two outs in the frame. All-America catcher J.P. Arencibia then delivered an RBI basehit that drove in Simunic to put the Vols up 2-0.
Adkins held the top-ranked Commodores without a baserunner until VU third baseman Pedro Alvarez drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fifth. Alvarez stay on the basepaths was brief, however, as the Vols turned their league-leading 60th double play of the season shortly thereafter.
A pair of leadoff hits by Lockwood and second baseman Tony Delmonico in the top of the sixth marked the end of Vanderbilt starting pitcher Brett Jacobson's day. The right-hander gave way to Nick Christiani after surrendering seven hits through five innings.
Tennessee left fielder Shawn Griffin then greeted Christiani with a two-run triple that extended UT's lead to four runs. The triple was Griffin's second of the year and upped his season RBIs total to 32.
Delmonico belted a solo home run in the eighth inning to push Tennessee's lead to 5-0. It was the sophomore's eighth longball of the year, tying him for the team lead and giving him 11 for his career.
A fielder's choice and subsequent infield throwing error in the bottom of the eighth gave Vanderbilt runners on the corners with one out, and an RBI sacrifice fly by Matt Meingasner then spoiled Adkins' shutout bid.
Borbon led off the ninth with a line drive single that slipped by Vandy centerfielder David Macias. Borbon reached third base on what was ruled a single and a two-base error, and he later scored on an RBI single by first baseman Yan Gomes.
Lockwood took the mound for the final out in the ninth with one man on base. An RBI fielder's choice by Commodores outfielder Dominic de la Osa preceded Lockwood's entrance, trimming the Tennessee lead to four runs. That set the stage for Alvarez's blast.
Jacobson fell to 5-2 with the loss. Tennessee is now 6-2 against Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament.
Craig Cobb, Tennessee's lone senior, will start on the mound Thursday against the winner of Wednesday night's game between fourth-seeded Mississippi State and fifth-seeded Ole Miss. First pitch for UT's Thursday game is set for 8 p.m. CT, and the contest will be televised regionally on CSS.
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