March 14, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Facing a five-run deficit in the seventh inning Tuesday, the Tennessee baseball team showed its mettle by mounting an improbable rally to defeat a gutsy Siena team 10-9 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. There were numerous heroes for the fifth-ranked Volunteers, who improved to 14-2 this season and extended their home win streak to 14 games.
Vols center fielder Julio Borbon drove in five runs on the day, but it was his third hit of the afternoon - a walk-off RBI single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth - that ended the nearly three-hour affair. Borbon finished the day 4-for-4 at the plate with one run scored and two walks. He also extended his impressive hit streak to 16 games.
Things looked bleak for the Big Orange after Siena (1-10) put up seven runs in the top of the seventh inning - thanks in part to three Tennessee errors. The Saints' six-hit inning took them from trailing by two runs to suddenly holding a commanding 8-3 lead with two and a half frames to play.
Borbon sparked UT's rally in the bottom of the eighth with a clutch, three-RBI triple. Shortly thereafter, preseason All-America catcher J.P. Arencibia and senior designated hitter Kelly Edmundson delivered an RBI single and an RBI double, respectively. Edmundson's second two-bagger of the day put UT on top 9-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth. All told, the Vols recorded five runs on three hits in the dramatic eighth inning.
Far from deterred, Siena plated one run on two hits in the top of the ninth, tying the game at 9-9. Outfielder Matt Gidaly scored the tying run on an RBI basehit by Jake Willis, but UT closer Sean Watson avoided any further damage and proceeded to notch his first win of the season.
Siena's first offense of the day came in the top of the sixth, when left fielder Gabe Perez crossed home plate on an RBI groundout by Scott King. Perez previously led off with a base on balls and then stole second base before taking third on a groundout.
The Saints' seven-run seventh inning began when two Tennessee errors allowed Willis to score and trim the Vols' lead to one run. Later in the frame, three consecutive RBI basehits by Eric Hildenbrand, Perez and Gidaly provided a huge momentum swing in Siena's favor, and the Saints suddenly led by five.
The charges from Rocky Top managed one run in the bottom of the seventh - courtesy of Edmundson's first RBI double of the day - before exploding for five runs in the go-ahead eighth.
The Big Orange drew back-to-back walks to begin the bottom of the eighth, and a subsequent balk by Saints reliever Kevin Snyder put two men in scoring position with no outs. Then following a ground out, Frazier was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Borbon.
Tennessee starting pitcher Deunte Heath threw six solid no-hit innings in his fourth start of the year. The junior allowed one run with a walk and three strikeouts before giving way to sophomore right-hander Chase Hardin in the top of the seventh.
Hardin and junior right-hander Craig Cobb struggled to find their comfort zone during Siena's hard-charging rally. The pair combined to give up seven runs on six hits while tossing 1/3 inning each. True freshman right-hander Danny Wiltz then entered the game and cooled off the Saints' bats, tossing 1 1/3 perfect innings before Watson came on to pitch the ninth.
Siena reliever Will Hassett (0-2) took the loss after surrendering one run on three hits in the eighth. He was one of four Saints to take the mound Tuesday. Starter Matt Moberg was touched for four runs on seven hits through six full innings of action.
The two-game series concludes Wednesday at 3 p.m., and Tennessee then travels to sixth-ranked Mississippi State for the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play.