March 8, 2014
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The No. 19 Tennessee baseball team improved to 13-1 with a 6-5 victory at No. 24 Arizona State on Saturday night at Packard Stadium. The Vols took advantage of three Sun Devil errors in the seventh inning to rally from a 3-2 deficit to take a 5-3 lead - one the Vols would not relinquish.
"I feel like the Vols showed their true character today," said UT head coach Dave Serrano. "There were a lot of things that went against us - not saying anything was unfair - but a lot of things went against us. They fought and battled extremely hard. They continue to prove - not just to me and this coaching staff but I think many people - that we are a team to be reckoned with because we have a lot of character, a lot of attitude and a lot of good players too."
Arizona State falls to 7-5 overall as the Sun Devils out-hit the Vols, 13-11.
In the pivotal seventh inning, Taylor Smart doubled home Maggio to tie the game at three with two outs. The Vols took a 4-3 lead as Scott Price reached on an error by the second baseman as Smart raced home to give Tennessee the lead. After Price stole second base, the Vols benefitted from another ASU miscue. Simcox's shot to shortstop Jordan Aboites was not handled cleanly, placing runners on the corner. Maddox then delivered a perfectly-placed two-out bunt towards ASU's Tucker Esmay at second base. Esmay fielded it cleanly, but the speed of Maddox was too much as Maddox reached safely. Esmay's throw got past the David Graybill at first base, allowing Price to score and put UT on top 5-3.
Tennessee picked up an insurance run in the eighth inning as Christin Stewart tripled to the deepest part of the park with one out. Two batters later, Maggio doubled to right to bring home Stewart.
Sophomore closer Drake Owenby came on to claim his fourth save of the season in the ninth inning. He allowed ASU's fifth run on a throwing error that came on what could have been a game-ending double play. Kyle Bilbrey was awarded home plate as Maddox's throw went awry.
Owenby induced Nathan Causey to fly out to Stewart in left, who squeezed it for the 6-5 Vols victory.
A leadoff double from Arizona State's cleanup hitter Nathaniel Causey and a bouncing single up the middle would give the Sun Devils the early 1-0 lead after two innings of play.
Tennessee strung together three-consecutive hits by Simcox, Maddox and Nick Senzel to tie the game at 1-1 with one out in the fourth. Senzel picked up his team-leading 14th RBI. With runners on the corners, the freshman then stole second on the next pitch, sliding under the tag from Aboites. With two in scoring position, Vincent Jackson ground into what would have likely been an inning-ending double play had it not been for the Senzel stolen base, but Aboites was forced to take the out at first and Maddox crossed the plate to make it 2-1, giving UT its first lead of the series.
Arizona State took a 3-2 lead in the fifth with a pair of runs as Aboites doubled home Esmay. The next batter, Johnny Sewald, singled in Aboites to regain a one-run lead for the Sun Devils.
Coach Serrano was ejected in the bottom of the sixth inning, as he was looking for an interference call on Arizona State as the Sun Devil runner bowled into Simcox, who was trying to turn a double play. It was his first ejection since April 1, 2012, during his first year at Tennessee.
Tennessee looks to win the series on Sunday at 3:30 ET/12:30 local time. The game will air on www.UTSports.com/allaccess.