OXFORD, Miss. (UT Release) – Three Tennessee freshmen pitchers combined to hold No. 24 Ole Miss to just six hits but the Rebels limited the Volunteers to just four as they won the series finale, 4-2, on a soggy Sunday afternoon at Swayze Field.
“It was a different game for us,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “Obviously it was inclement weather with a little bit of a drizzle all game. Early on it was a sloppy game by both teams and it was a tough game to play in offensively. We were able to hold them down but just weren’t able to manufacture runs and we couldn’t sustain innings and it cost us.
“I’ll be honest, I think after yesterday, knowing that we were mathematically eliminated, I saw the toll it took on our guys. I told them before the game that we are going to finish this thing the right way. Everything that we do good is building towards the future of this program and I’m in it for the long haul, not just the short term.”
Sporting pink sweatbands for Mother’s Day, the Vols dropped to 24-27 on the year and 8-19 in SEC play while Ole Miss improves to 34-17 overall and 14-13 in league action.
After the Rebels scored three runs in 1.2 innings off of freshman Joseph Vanderplas in his first career start, fellow first-year Vol Robbie Kidd came on to keep Tennessee within striking distance. He fired a career-high 5.1 innings, striking out four and allowing just a single run on two hits.
UT’s third freshman of the day, Conner Stevens, came on to work a scoreless frame as well.
Offensively, UT’s four hits came from four different players on Sunday with Davis Morgan extending his current hitting streak to 10 games, marking a career long for the senior.
Fellow classmate Zach Osborne also had a single for his 222nd career hit, giving him sole possession of 10th all-time at Tennessee and moving him within one hit of former Vol Julio Borbon for ninth.
Junior Chris Fritts added an RBI double while freshman Will Maddox singled and stole his team-leading 14th base of the season.
Just like the first two games of the series, Tennessee got on the scoreboard first, using a one-out single by Osborne, two Ole Miss errors and an RBI double off the base of the wall in right by Chris Pierce to score the game’s first run.
The Rebels answered right back though, tying the game in the home half of the first. The Vols were fortunate to limit Ole Miss to the lone tally as it loaded the bases with nobody out after two UT errors, a balk and a walk. After an infield pop-up, a sac fly brought the run home before a foul out left two runners stranded.
The home team added two more runs in the bottom of the second to jump ahead 3-1 after RBI singles by Preston Overbey and Andrew Mistone.
Tennessee cut its deficit back down to one in the top of the fifth but couldn’t get any closer. Zach Luther drew a one-out walk to get the Vols started before moving up to third on a single by Maddox and a successful double steal. Although the next batter popped out to shallow center, Morgan came through with two outs, driving a high chopper to third that brought the run home as the throw to first was high for Ole Miss’ third error of the game.
The Rebels got the run back two innings later though as they finally got on the board against Kidd with Will Allen lifting a sacrifice fly to center to account for the final run of the game and put the Rebels up 4-2.
That is where the score would remain the rest of the game as the Vols managed just one baserunner in 3.2 innings against Aaron Greenwood before Brett Huber came on to get the final out of the contest for his ninth save of the year.
Tennessee will close out its five-game, eight-day road trip at Middle Tennessee State at 6 p.m. CT on Tuesday, May. 15 in Murfreesboro.
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