No. 21 Vols drop series at Georgia, 7-4

ATHENS, Ga. (release) -- Georgia jumped on No. 21 Tennessee 2-0 in the first inning and never looked back on Saturday, winning the finale 7-4 to clinch the series over the Volunteers in front of a sold out crowd at Foley Field.

After winning the opening game of the series Thursday on ESPNU, the Volunteers dropped the last two contests in Athens to fall to 23-11 overall and 6-9 in SEC play. Georgia clinched its third-straight conference series and improves to 21-14 overall and 7-7-1 in SEC action.

“I’m very disappointed,” said head coach Dave Serrano. “We got beat on the road; the series taken from us. I give credit to them because they made pitches when they had to, executed offensively when runners were in scoring position and they took advantage of every opportunity we gave them.

“They didn’t have to do a whole lot to win the series, and that’s what bothers me most. It wasn’t like they did anything special. They just did the things that it takes to win baseball games.”

Tennessee was out-hit 11-7 in the game. Bulldog flame-thrower Robert Tyler (4-2) earned the win, giving up four hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks while striking out five over six innings of work. UGA handed the ball over to right-hander David Sosebee, who earned his first career save with a three-inning outing. Sosebee gave up three hits, one walk and one run.

Freshman Nick Senzel stood out at the plate for the Orange and White, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Leadoff man Will Maddox was 1-for-3 with two runs scored. Both Vols doubled in the contest. Senzel and Maddox hit .417 and .400 for the series, respectively. Senzel drove in a team-best four runs against the Bulldogs, while Maddox crossed the plate a team-high four times. Sophomore shortstop A.J. Simcox also registered a .375 clip (3-for-8) for the weekend.

Rookie Kyle Serrano (3-2) took the loss in his seventh career start, allowing six hits and three runs. Bret Marks also surrendered three runs in relief for UT.

Georgia used back to back hits and a hit by pitch to load the bases in the bottom half of the first inning, before first baseman Daniel Nichols delivered the one-out, two-RBI single to give the Bulldogs the early 2-0 lead.

Tennessee rallied with two outs in the third inning as Vincent Jackson singled back up the middle to get things going. Maddox continued his hot-hitting series in his home state with his fourth double of the season, bringing Jackson all the way around from first to cut the UGA lead in half at 2-1. It was Maddox’s 13th RBI of the campaign.

A pair of errors plagued the Vols to start the fifth inning and Georgia delivered three hits in the frame to extend its lead to five runs at 6-1. Catcher Zack Bowers delivered the big hit, doubling off the paint in left field to score two of his teammates. Through five innings, the Bulldogs had allowed just two UT runs over the past 19 innings.

Down five runs, the Vols got the first two baserunners on to start the sixth inning as Maddox reached on an error and Simcox drew his 10th walk of the season. Christin Stewart flew out to deep left field, allowing both runners to move up 90 feet into scoring position. Senzel tattooed a pitch deep into the left-center gap, bringing home both runs to trim Georgia’s lead to 6-3. Senzel, who picked up his sixth double and RBIs No. 25 and 26 on the knock, was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.

The Bulldogs pushed their lead back to four in the bottom half of the sixth with two hits and a sacrifice fly to center field, making the score 7-3 in favor of UGA.

Georgia threatened to add more in the bottom of the seventh, getting runners on second and third with just one out. However, the Vols came up with a key 5-2-5-1 double play to get out of the jam. Third baseman Taylor Smart fielded a hard-hit groundball, went home with it to Tyler Schultz, who got Bowers in a rundown. Once Bowers was tagged out by Smart, the UT senior tossed the ball to relief pitcher Josh Peterson covering third to tag out Skylar Weber trying to move up a bag.

The Orange and White got both Maddox and Simcox on to lead off an inning again in the eighth as Maddox walked and Simcox singled to right field. Following a back-breaking double play ground into by Stewart, Senzel drove in his third run of the game with a single into right field. It was the Knoxville native’s team-leading 27th RBI of the season.

Sosebee returned for the ninth inning, allowing a single by freshman Nathaniel Maggio, but nothing more as he clinched his first career save.

Tennessee returns to action on Tuesday, April 15, as the Vols travel to Salem, Va., to compete in the Hokie-Smokey Classic against Virginia Tech. With first pitch set for 6 p.m. ET, the Vols and Hokies will play at LewisGale Field, the home of the Salem Red Sox.

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