Vols drop series finale at South Carolina, 6-1

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 10 South Carolina scored four runs in the fifth inning and Tennessee’s only tally came on a solo home run by Chris Fritts as the Gamecocks claimed the series rubber match, 6-1, on a picture-perfect Easter Sunday at Carolina Stadium.

“I was very disappointed in how we showed up today,” Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano said. “I thought both teams were feeling each other out and we didn’t do what we needed to do today to come out on top in this series.

“What’s so disappointing for me today is the opportunity we had to kind of separate ourselves from other teams in our division and we didn’t take advantage. It’s just going to make it harder for us down the line and I hope we don’t look back and kick ourselves for not taking advantage of the opportunity we had.”

Sophomore Nick Williams (2-3) suffered the loss for Tennessee (20-12, 6-6 SEC), yielding four unearned runs on three hits in 4.2 innings. Junior Drew Steckenrider was stellar out of the bullpen once again, striking out four in 2.2 frames. Over the weekend, Steckenrider finished with 10 punchouts in five total innings against the Gamecocks.

Colby Holmes (4-0) picked up the win for South Carolina (23-9, 5-7), tossing seven strong innings in which he allowed one run on four hits. Evan Beal came on in relief to keep the Vols off the board for the final two frames and earn his fifth save of the season.

Fritts hit his second home run of the year in the seventh inning to account for Tennessee’s only run in the contest. Steckenrider, Davis Morgan and Zach Osborne recorded the team’s only other three hits.

After Williams and Holmes each posted four scoreless frames to open the contest, South Carolina broke through in the fifth, scoring four unearned runs to grab a 4-0 lead. After a leadoff walk, a throwing error on a sac bunt, another successful sacrifice and a second walk loaded the bases for the Gamecocks with just one out. Williams’ third walk of the frame then brought in the first run of the game.

South Carolina proceeded to add three more runs on a sacrifice fly by Evan Marzilli, a bunt single by Adam Matthews and another RBI single by Christian Matthews.

The Gamecocks tacked on a pair of insurance run in the home half of the eighth as Joey Pankake and Dante Rosenburg each drove in a run.

The Vols got leadoff singles in the second, third and fourth innings but couldn’t move any of them past second. Over the next four innings, the only player to reach base was Fritts on his solo shot in the top of the seventh. Richard Carter and Davis Morgan each drew walks in the ninth, but the Vols couldn’t take advantage and stranded both.

Tennessee will look to return to the win column on Wednesday when it travels to Johnson City to take on in-state rival East Tennessee State at 7 p.m.

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