March 3, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee baseball team committed six costly errors Saturday and was out-hit for the ninth time in 13 games this season as Illinois-Chicago posted its second comeback win in as many days. The Flames clinched the series with their 9-6 triumph at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, and the Volunteers fell to 6-7 on the year.
Tennessee led 6-2 after seven innings, but UIC (4-4) rallied for seven runs on seven hits in the final two frames. Flames sophomore David Cales notched his third save of the year by working a scoreless ninth inning.
Illinois-Chicago began its rally in the top of the eighth, marking the end of Tennessee starter James Adkins' day. The junior left the game after three consecutive hits - including an RBI double by catcher Erik Whinery - cut the Vols' lead to 6-3. The Flames managed two more runs off a Nick Rainwater grounder that produced UT's fourth infield error of the day and a wild pitch that brought home Whinery.
With UIC trailing 6-5 in the top of the ninth, Vols reliever Nick Hernandez struck out leadoff man Mickey Pingree. But the Flames next seven batters all reached base. Tennessee's fifth infield error of the game put Mike Kaffel on first, and Illinois-Chicago's next two batters each walked to load the bases. Chad Schroeder then sent an RBI single into left field, tying the game at 6-6. An outfield throwing error on the play enabled the go-ahead run to cross, and UIC added three more consecutive hits to build a three-run lead, 9-6. That set the stage for Cales to finish things off in the bottom of the frame.
Illinois-Chicago starting pitcher Ryan Zink held the Vols in check through four innings, as UT went hitless and Zink faced just two batters over the minimum. Offensively, the Flames managed four hits and seven baserunners through the first five innings, but it all proved fruitless in the runs column to that point.
Vols centerfielder Jarred Frazier finally delivered Tennessee's first hit of the afternoon in the fifth-inning, sending a basehit into centerfield and putting catcher Yan Gomes on third base. Gomes had previously walked before taking second base on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Jones.
Frazier's breakthrough basehit established some momentum for the Vols, as right fielder Andy Simunic followed it up with an RBI single of his own, and second baseman Danny Lima produced a bases-clearing double that plated Frazier and Simunic to give UT a 3-0 lead. Lima's two-bagger extended his team-best hit streak to 10 games.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Frazier recorded his second single of the day, loading the bases with two outs on Flames left-hander Joe Skinner. And on cue once again, Simunic sent an RBI basehit through the left side of the infield to extend UT's lead to 4-0. Third baseman Cody Brown scored on the play after initially reaching on a fielder's choice.
UIC used an error, a walk and a basehit to load the bases with no out in the top of the seventh. The Flames plated a pair of quick runs when Rainwater laid down a perfect RBI bunt single and centerfielder Larry Gempp Jr. was hit in the helmet by a pitch. Adkins then struck out first baseman Brett Schaefer, designated hitter Ben Trotter and Pingree consecutively (doing so with just nine pitches) to end the rally in impressive fashion and strand three UIC baserunners.
Gomes drove in a pair of two-out runs in the seventh with a basehit to centerfield. Designated hitter Jeff Lockwood and Brown each scored on the play, giving Gomes his second multi-RBI game of the season.
Adkins earned a no-decision after surrendering five runs (three earned) on 10 hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Hernandez absorbed the loss out of the bullpen to fall to 0-2 on the year.
Zink was pulled after 4 1/3 innings in favor of reliever Adam Worthington. Four more UIC relievers - including Cales - combined to hold the Vols to three runs on six hits the rest of the way. Andrew Davis, who worked the eighth, picked up the win to improve to 1-1.
Tennessee left fielder Shawn Griffin started Saturday despite spending Friday night at UT Medical Center with flu-like symptoms. The Vols remain without preseason All-America selections J.P. Arencibia and Julio Borbon, both of whom are nursing injuries.
The series concludes Sunday at 1:30 p.m., with sophomore left-hander Lance McClain (2-2, 8.79 ERA) starting on the mound for Tennessee.