NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UT Release) - Three errors and nine runners left in scoring position were too much for Tennessee to overcome against No. 3 Vanderbilt, which used a five-run eighth inning to break a close game open late and clinch a series victory with an 8-3 triumph on a rainy Saturday evening at Hawkins Field.
“I am proud of how we fought,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “After a tough loss last night where we thought we gave some things away, we challenged the team as a staff to play hard and I thought we did. The game got away from us. We are a little short on the back end of our pitching and they exploited that in the eighth inning.
“What is disappointing for me and a lot of people in the dugout is that I feel like we have gotten two good nights of pitching performances, which hasn’t happened a lot for us lately, and we have really squandered both games. That is hard to take to be honest with you.”
Junior Nick Williams gave the Volunteers a chance to win with seven strikeouts in 7.0 strong innings, but his effort wasn't enough as an uncharacteristic lack of execution down the stretch helped set the table for the Commodores' late push.
Trailing by just one run in the top of the eighth, Tennessee had a prime opportunity slip through the cracks. After a pair of walks and a sac bunt put two runners in scoring position with just one out, Vanderbilt was able to thwart the UT threat as Carson Fulmer came out of the bullpen to strike out the next two batters and end the frame.
While the Vols were unable to get a crucial bunt down in that frame, the Commodores were able to do so in the bottom of the inning.
Williams entered the frame having retired 13 of the last 14 batters he had faced but Conrad Gregor ended that run with a leadoff ground-rule double. Connor Harrell then laid down a great bunt in front of the plate and the throw to first got away. The error allowed Gregor to score from second and set up what would eventually turn into a five-run inning.
Tennessee would get an RBI single from Will Maddox in the top of the ninth, but it was too little, too late for the Volunteers after the big inning by VU.
Vanderbilt got the scoring started in the first inning, plating a pair of runs to take a quick 2-0 advantage.
The Big Orange was in for a fight though and answered right back in the very next stanza to tie the game. Vincent Jackson got the rally started with a beautiful bunt single down the third-base line and promptly stole second. After a walk to Taylor Smart, David Houser punched an 0-1 pitch into right for an RBI single.
A.J. Simcox laid down a sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position and a wild pitch with Maddox at the plate brought the game back to a deadlock at 2-2.
The Commodores took the lead back in the bottom of the second thanks to a Tennessee error. The starting pitchers for both teams then took over, putting up zeroes all the way until the bottom of the eighth when Vanderbilt broke the game open.
Tyler Beede improved to 7-0 for the Commodores with nine strikeouts and two runs on four hits in 7.1 innings of work. Carson Fulmer recorded his first save for Vanderbilt, fanning four batters in 1.2 innings.
Williams (1-1) suffered the loss for the Big Orange after yielding six runs - four earned - on five hits in 7.0 innings. He also struck out a season-high seven batters on the night.
Tennessee will look to close out the series with a win at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. The Vols will send freshman right-hander Aaron Quillen (1-1, 5.76) to the mound for the series finale, while the Commodores will counter with sophomore southpaw Philip Pfiefer (2-0, 2.88).