Knoxville, Tenn.--(UTSports) Tennessee rallied from an early five-run deficit to tie its game against UNC-Asheville on Tuesday night, only to see the Bulldogs take advantage of a two-error seventh inning to take the lead back and hold on as they handed the Volunteers a 7-5 setback at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
"I don't want to take anything away from UNC-Asheville, they won fair and square and did more than we did, but this late in the season, when you have so much on the line, this kind of night shouldn't happen," UT head coach Dave Serrano said.
"For whatever reason our focus wasn't in place and I take the blame for that. We didn't deserve to win that game...That team played better than us tonight and that is what is so beautiful about this sport."
The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick 5-0 advantage thanks to a three-spot in the second and two more runs in the fourth before the Vols managed to put a tally in the hit column. Once they did though, they took a big chunk out of their deficit as they plated three runs in the home half of the fourth to make it a 5-3 ball game.
Sophomore A.J. Simcox got the ball rolling with a chopper to third that went for a leadoff single to start the frame. An Asheville error and a productive fly out would quickly move him up to third before Vincent Jackson stroked an 0-1 pitch to right to bring him home. That would be the first of three consecutive RBI singles as Derek Lance and Nathaniel Maggio also got in on the action to move the Orange and White within two at 5-3.
Tennessee would tack on one more run in each of the next two innings, utilizing a sac fly by Jackson in the fifth and a two-strike, two-out run-scoring single by Simcox in the sixth to tie the game back up at 5-5.
The Vols would hand the lead right back to UNC-Asheville in the very next stanza, however, as a pair of errors allowed two unearned runs to score to put the Bulldogs up by the final tally of 7-5.
UT did come within mere feet of tying the game back up in the bottom of the ninth when freshman Nick Senzel came to bat with a runner on base and launched a moonshot down the left-field line that just hooked foul at the final second. He would strike out three pitches later. Although a walk would then bring the potential game-winning run to the plate, the Bulldogs induced a routine groundball to seal the victory.
Simcox led a nine-hit UT attack with a 3-for-5, two-run effort at the plate, while fellow classmates Christin Stewart and Jackson had two hits and two RBIs, respectively.
Drake Owenby suffered his third loss of the season, despite not allowing an earned run as two unearned tallies scored in his two innings of work. Andrew Lee retired all six batters he faced as he worked two frames as well.
Tennessee will look to return to the win column this weekend when it travels to Dudy-Noble Field in Starkville, Miss., to take on No. 21 Mississippi State in a three-game set. First pitch times are set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (ET).
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