NASHVILLE, Tenn. - With a steady rain falling all night, Tennessee was tied or in the lead against No. 3 Vanderbilt the entire game only to see a walk-off single by Spencer Navin give the Commodores a 4-3 win in 12 innings on Friday at Hawkins Field.
The Volunteers certainly didn't make it easy for the Commodores who put the winning run in scoring position in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings only to see UT freshmen pitchers Drake Owenby and Trevor Charpie would out of jam after jam, including getting a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 11th.
“I was proud of how much we fought and kept battling against some of the mistakes we kept making,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “We got out of some big jams, but as a newer group we are still doing things that are not allowing us to win games and that is what is disappointing. I know [the players] are stung right now, that was a tough whether it was Vanderbilt or anyone, but there are a lot of details where we are coming up short and not allowing us to be successful.
“I think we are almost trying too hard and we just want them to play hard. We were out of control with some things in today’s game and that is just a team that is trying to be successful instead of sticking to the details that we preach and talk about every single day. I was very short after the game because it was an emotional loss and they were stung.
“They were pretty committed to living pitch-to-pitch today. It wasn’t about our wanting to be here and want to be successful, it was about the details. This loss really stings if we don’t learn something out of it. We have to go back, individually and collectively, and look at all the things that we need to fix and continue to work on to come out and feel good about these kinds of games.”
It was a pitching duel for the first seven innings as Tennessee senior Zack Godley and Vanderbilt southpaw Kevin Ziomek matched each other pitch-for-pitch. Both allowed three runs with Godley yielding just five hits and striking out eight and Ziomek punching out 10 while allowing six hits.
At the plate, sophomore Will Maddox paced an 11-hit UT attack, reaching base four times with three singles and an HBP and scoring two of the team’s three runs. Junior Pierce Bily continued his strong work offensively, driving in a pair of runs in the contest.
Tennessee jumped ahead in the top of the fourth with a two-out RBI single by Bily but Vanderbilt tied the game back up in the home half of the frame with a sacrifice fly.
The Vols were undeterred, however, going back out in front with two runs in sixth as A.J. Simcox scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch and Bily knocked in his second run of the day with an RBI groundout.
That lead would only last until the bottom of the seventh when the Commodores knotted the game back up at 3-3, where the score would remain until Navin’s game-winning hit in the bottom of the 12th.
Vanderbilt closer Brian Miller improved to 4-0 on the year with a career-high 5.0 shutout innings, striking out six while scattering five hits. Charpie (2-1) suffered the loss for the Vols despite helping them escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam with a 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the 11th.
Owenby was also solid in relief of Godley, striking out four and yielding just one hit in 3.1 innings of work for the Big Orange. He also worked out of a major jam in extra innings, striking out back-to-back batters to end the bottom of the 10th after the Commodores put the possible game-winning run on third with just one out.
The two teams will be back at it at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT on Saturday for the second game of the series. Tennessee will send junior right-hander Nick Williams (1-0, 2.84) to the mound while Vanderbilt will counter with sophomore Tyler Beede (2-0, 0.70). The game will be televised on CSS with Richard Cross and Rusty Ensor on the call.