KNOXVILLE (UTSports.com) -- A two-strike, two-out, two-RBI double by Kyle Farmer after a pair of two-out walks in the fifth inning proved to be the difference in Sunday's game as the Tennessee baseball team suffered a 5-3 setback to Georgia at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
"That's a tough one," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "We get 12 hits, they get seven. They make an error, we don't. It was probably the most frustrating game we've had this year. We had so many chances. We need every win we can get at this point. I felt like it was a good matchup. Their starting pitcher had been struggling, and he struggled (again today) and didn't last long. We just couldn't get anything going against their bullpen. I thought (Andrew) Toles and Nick Williams were great today. It's great to see freshmen show up and play in the third game of a series."
The Volunteers lost for just the second time in 18 games this season when they recorded more hits than their opponent. While it did out-hit Georgia, 12 to seven, the Big Orange also stranded nine runners, compared to just four by the Bulldogs.
The first eight hitters in the UT lineup recorded at least one hit on Sunday, paced by two-hit performances by freshman Andrew Toles, sophomore Chris Fritts and seniors Josh Liles and Matt Duffy. Toles tallied a pair of RBIs as well, while senior Tyler Horne extended his hitting streak to a career-best seven games.
On the mound, both bullpens were outstanding with Georgia's throwing seven shutout innings and the Volunteers' putting up four scoreless frames. UT freshman Nick Williams fired a career-high three innings, yielding just a single hit, walking one and striking out one to keep the Orange and White within striking distance until the very end. Sophomore Drew Steckenrider pitched a scoreless ninth with a pair of strikeouts.
Trailing by two at 5-3 with two on and two out in the bottom of the sixth, Tennessee looked to have regained the lead when Toles launched a 2-1 fastball deep to right, but it got caught up in a strong cross-wind and fell at the base of the wall for the final out of the frame.
The Vols also had a prime scoring opportunity in the following inning after singles by Osborne and Duffy put two runners on base with just one out. UT couldn't capitalize, however, as Georgia reliever Earl Daniels struck out the next two hitters to end the threat.
Georgia opened the contest with a three-spot in the very first stanza, using a jam-shot double down the left-field line by Levi Hyams, a two-run home run by Farmer and an RBI single by Jonathan Hester to stake claim to a quick 3-0 advantage.
Tennessee struck back in the bottom of the second when it loaded the bases with just one out by sandwiching singles by Horne and Fritts around a walk to junior Davis Morgan and a fly out. Although Georgia starter Craig Gullickson would strike out the next hitter, Toles worked a full count before punching a single through the right side of the infield to plate a pair of runs and cut his team's deficit to just one at 4-3.
The Vols then brought the game to a 3-3 deadlock in the third. After a leadoff single by Norfork, the Ripley, Tenn., native drew at least seven throws over to the bag before taking off on a 2-2 pitch to Duffy who smoked it to the left-center gap for a double that allowed Norfork to race all the way around from first to score on the perfectly executed hit-and-run.
After a scoreless fourth, Georgia took the lead back for good in the top of the fifth. UT starter Nick Blount looked to have a quick out just two pitches into the frame when Duffy made a sensational diving play on a ball to his left. After originally ruling the runner out at first, the umpires converged and decided the throw had pulled Morgan's foot off the bag at first. It didn't matter in the long run, however, as the next hitter popped up a bunt. Morgan made a diving catch and flipped to Osborne covering first for the double play.
That is when the trouble started though as Blount walked Levi Hyams on four pitches and quickly fell behind 2-0 to Conor Welton. Sidearming lefty Hunter Daniel was summoned out of the pen at that point, but neither of his two pitches found the zone and Welton earned a free pass as well. Junior right-hander Jerod Peper then came in to face Farmer who took a 2-2 pitch and laced it to the left-center gap for a two-RBI double that put the score at its final tally of 5-3.
Tennessee will look to return to the win column on Tuesday when it closes out its current homestand at 7 p.m. against Middle Tennessee State. From there, the Vols will travel to Cookeville, Tenn., for a 7 p.m. ET Wednesday night showdown at Tennessee Tech.
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