March 20, 2004
Starkville, Miss. - Home run saving catches was the name of the game as Eli Iorg and Josh Alley made two outstanding grabs at the fence to thwart five potential runs as No. 19 Tennessee Volunteers posted their 15th consecutive victory and a series win over the No. 20 Mississippi State Bulldogs, 8-3, at Dudy Noble Field. The Vols go for their first road sweep since 2001 Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT.
Iorg, who went 3-for-5 with a home run made his catch in the fourth, stopping a potential three-run home run. Alley added two RBI and made his catch in the seventh, stopping a likely two-run blast.
Iorg paced the lower third of the lineup that collected seven of Tennessee's 11 hits.
Iorg and Brian Cleveland got Tennessee (19-2, 2-0 SEC) going by leading off the third with a single and double, respectively, and scoring on a pair of groundouts for a 2-0 lead. Mississippi State (12-4, 0-2 SEC) got one back in the bottom of the frame as Steve Gendron, who drew a lead off walk and took third on a Vol error, scored on Brad Jones' base hit.
The Bulldogs plated their second unearned run of the day in the fourth when Tyler Scarbrough, who tripled with out, scored when Vol first baseman Chris Kemp lost a high pop fly in the sun and dropped the ball. Iorg kept the Bulldogs from having a big inning as he tracked Brad Corley's long drive to left center, leapt and brought the ball back from over the fence for the final out, halting a prospective four-run outburst.
Iorg then led off the fifth with a solo home run, his first of the season, to right spurring a three-run rally as Tennessee took the lead for good at 5-2. Cleveland and Michael Rivera followed with back-to-back singles scoring on a groundout and an error as Bulldog starter Jeff Lacher (2-2), who took the loss, was lifted.
Sean Watson (3-1), who wasn't particularly sharp early, picked up the win after retiring 10 of the final 12 hitters he faced in seven innings. He scattered seven hits while working around four walks with only one strikeout. The Bulldogs made some noise early by placing at least two runners on base through the first four innings, but Watson induced three infield flies and got Iorg's catch to end any potential threat.
Alley made the second home run saving catch of the day as he snagged Craig Tatum's long fly at the center field fence, turning an impending two-run home run into a sacrifice fly as Corley, who tripled, scored to make it 6-3.
Patrick Hicklen pitched the final two innings picking up his first save.