March 14, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Danny Lima and Jeff Lockwood drove in three runs apiece Wednesday as the Tennessee baseball team overcame an early five-run deficit to defeat Morehead State 10-9 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Lockwood went 2-for-3 at the plate with a homer and two runs scored, and he took the mound at the end to notch his second save of the year.
Tennessee improved to 12-7 on the year and is now riding a season-high, six-game win streak. The Vols are 4-1 this year in games decided by a single run.
In the bottom of the seventh, Lima sent a two-run double to the corner in left field, giving the Vols their first lead of the day, 8-6. All-America catcher J.P. Arencibia added an RBI single later in the frame to put the Big Orange up by three.
But then with the Vols leading 10-8 in the top of the ninth, Morehead State (3-11) threatened with runners on the corners with one out. An RBI single by catcher Donald Cheney made the score 10-9 and put the potential go-ahead run on first base. But a calm Lockwood struck out Andrew Wertz and Christian Winstanley to end the three-hour affair.
Right-hander Ryan Butner made his first career start for Tennessee, but the true freshman got off to a shaky start in the top of the first. After Morehead State loaded the bases on one hit, Cheney plated leadoff man J.D. Ashbrook with an RBI sacrifice fly.
Butner then gave way to sophomore right-hander Ryne Simpson with one out, two men on base and the Vols facing an early 1-0 deficit. E Wertz brought in another run with an RBI sacrifice fly of his own before Simpson got out of the inning.
After UT went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first, the Eagles continued to put runners on in the second, loading the bases with no outs. Ashbrook hit what appeared to be MSU's third RBI sac fly of the afternoon, but Trent Hanna left third base early, turning the potential sacrifice into a double play. Winstanley later drove in a pair of runs with an RBI basehit that gave Morehead State a 4-0 lead after one and a half frames.
An infield error by Eagles second baseman Chris McCaslin in the bottom of the second gave UT an extra out to work with, and Lockwood seized the opportunity by lacing an RBI single through the right side of the infield to score left fielder Shawn Griffin.
A pair of doubles, a walk and consecutive hit-by-pitches for the Eagles in the third inning brought MSU's lead to 6-1 and marked the end of Simpson's outing. Sophomore left-hander Lance McClain entered into a one-out, bases-loaded jam and promptly induced a double-play ball to escape the frame and avoid further damage.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Tennessee got back-to-back doubles from Griffin and third baseman Cody Brown. Brown's RBI two-bagger trimmed UT's deficit to four runs, and the Vols' next two batters both reached to load the bases for right fielder Andy Simunic.
Simunic beat out a high-chopping grounder to bring in one run, and Lima and shortstop Tony Delmonico each drove in runs to help the Vols pull to within one, 6-5. Lima's RBI came on a fielder's choice to MSU starting pitcher Henry Mabee, and Delmonico's RBI came on a hard-hit single up the middle.
Lockwood tied things at 6-6 with an RBI groundout that plated Griffin in the fifth. Griffin had previously reached on his third basehit of the game. McClain gave way to freshman lefty Nick Hernandez with two men on and one out in the top of the sixth, and Hernandez recorded two quick outs to strand both runners.
Mabee was lifted after giving up six runs (three earned) on 10 hits through six full innings, and right-hander Mark Rhodes took the mound for Morehead State. He hit Brown with a pitch to lead off the bottom of the seventh, and Lockwood put Brown on second base with a sacrifice bunt. A throwing error on a grounder by pinch-hitter Julio Borbon then moved Brown to third base, and junior Daniel Beasley came on to pinch run for Borbon. The runners on the corners set the stage for Lima's bases-clearing, go-ahead double.
Lockwood was called to the mound with one out in the eighth and two runners on base. Wertz then logged an RBI sac fly (MSU's third of the game), and the Eagles pulled to within one on an infield error. Lockwood erased one of those runs, however, with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth. It was the Knoxville, Tenn., native's first career longball and the 12th by a Vol this season.
Hernandez picked up the win for UT to improve to 2-2 on the year. The freshman worked two full innings in which he allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts. McClain paved the way for Hernandez by tossing three shutout innings.
Rhodes (0-1) absorbed the loss for the Eagles after surrendering three unearned runs on one hit through 2/3 inning.
Borbon's seventh-inning, pinch-hit appearance marked his first action of the season. He suffered an ankle injury in January and had missed UT's first 18 games.
Griffin finished with a career-high three runs and tied his career-high with three hits while improving his season average to .339. Simunic also tied a career-high with three hits.
Tennessee leads the all-time series with Morehead State 26-1, dating to 1987.
The Vols now head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for a three-game weekend series against No. 22 Alabama that marks the beginning of Southeastern Conference play. Game times are set for 6:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 2 p.m. CT.