Sac Fly Sinks Vols in Extras at MSU

STARKVILLE, Miss. ( A walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th inning by Mitch Slauter gave Mississippi State a 2-1 win over Tennessee in a nationally-televised thriller on Thursday night at Dudy Noble Field.

With five assists on the night, senior shortstop Zach Osborne pushed his career total to 527, breaking the previous school record of 524 set by fellow Louisville native and bearer of the number two Tennessee jersey Chris Burke.

Tabbed as the ESPNU Thursday Night SEC Game of the Week, the contest lived up to the billing as both teams got tremendous efforts from their respective starting pitchers.

For the Vols, junior Zack Godley yielded just one run on four hits and struck out five in 7.1 strong innings, while MSU starter Chris Stratton gave the Bulldogs nine frames of one-run ball, striking out 10.

Neither would factor into the decision, however, as the game went to extra innings following a clutch, two-out RBI single by UT freshman Will Maddox in the top of the eighth. The Gainesville, Ga., native was 2-for-5 on the night in the loss.

Caleb Reed (1-5) pitched the final two innings for Mississippi State to pick up his first win of the year, while junior Drew Steckenrider (4-3) suffered the loss despite three solid innings of work.

Following four shutout frames by both starting pitchers, Mississippi State broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth, getting a two-out double from Tyler Fullerton followed by an RBI single from Sam Frost to grab a 1-0 lead.

That is where the score would remain until the eighth when the Vols finally got to Stratton. After two quick outs to start the frame, Ethan Bennett actually struck out but was able to keep the inning alive as he reached on a wild pitch in the dirt. Osborne then laced a single to right to put runners on the corners for Maddox. On the ninth pitch of his at-bat against Stratton, Maddox punched a 3-2 pitch up the middle for an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.

After a scoreless ninth, Tennessee finally got to the State bullpen in the 10th as Reed entered the game for the start of extra innings. A leadoff walk by Chris Pierce put the Vols in prime position, but two missed bunts and strikeout, throw-him out double play on a back-pick by the catcher to first effectively thwarted the threat.

The Big Orange had another great scoring opportunity in the 11th as a leadoff single by Maddox, sac bunt, intentional walk and a bunt single by Parker Wormsley loaded the bases with just one out. Chris Fritts followed with a flyball to center, but the Bulldogs gunned the runner down at the plate to end the inning to set up Slauter's game-winning sac fly in the bottom of the frame.

Tennessee (22-16, 7-9 SEC) and Mississippi State (22-16, 6-10) will be right back at it at 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday while the series finale is set for a 1 p.m. start on Saturday. UT freshman Robbie Kidd (2-0, 3.19) will take on Mississippi State righthander Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.25) in game two.

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