March 24, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- In a baseball game that closely resembled a boxing match, 12th-ranked Tennessee landed the knockout blow in the eighth inning, defeating No. 26 Kentucky by a score of 7-6 Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Freshman outfielder Jarred Frazier delivered the game-winning RBI for the Vols, and J.P. Arencibia and Tony Delmonico each homered as UT improved to 17-5 (1-2 SEC) on the year.
Kentucky fell to 18-5 (2-2 SEC) with the loss after being out-hit by Tennessee 12-8. Both clubs committed a pair of errors, leading to one unearned run on each side.
Frazier's eighth-inning basehit drove in Vols third baseman Chris Siewert, and junior closer Sean Watson struck out three of the four batters he faced in the top of the ninth to seal the victory and improve to 3-0 this season. Watson allowed one unearned run on one hit with a walk and four strikeouts while working the final two frames for UT.
Kentucky centerfielder Antone DeJesus led off the top of the first with a double to the corner in left field, and he then took third base on a wild pitch. First baseman Ryan Strieby later drove in DeJesus with an RBI fielder's choice, opening the night's scoring and setting up what developed into a "punch, counter-punch" affair.
The Vols were quick to answer in the bottom of the first, as second baseman Michael Rivera was plated by an RBI sacrifice fly by Arencibia. Rivera had previously reached second base on an infield error before advancing to third on a wild pitch.
Delmonico put Tennessee on top with a solo home run to left-centerfield in the second. It was Delmonico's first career homer and the fifth of the season by a Tennessee true freshman.
DeJesus led off the top of the third inning with a triple to the corner in right field. Then following a strikeout, he came home on an RBI sacrifice fly by Strieby, knotting the score at 2-2. The Wildcats later reclaimed their one-run lead in the fourth when John Shelby scored from third on an RBI single by Shaun Lehmann.
Tennessee's Kelly Edmundson and Brian Van Kirk posted back-to-back basehits to lead off the bottom of the fourth and both advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Delmonico. After Siewert was hit by a pitch to load the bases, junior first baseman Ryan Castellanos drove in Edmundson with an RBI fielder's choice.
The sparring continued in the top of the fifth, as Kentucky used an RBI single by Strieby jump back out to a one-run lead, 4-3.
But Arencibia dealt a powerful blow during UT's three-run fifth inning. The preseason All-America selection's two-run blast to left field preceded an RBI single by Delmonico that put the Vols up by two. It was Arencibia's fourth homer of the year, tying him with Chris Kemp for the team lead.
After a scoreless sixth inning, a leadoff walk by Lehmann and subsequent double by Justin Scutchfield in the top of the seventh gave the Wildcats two runners in scoring position with no outs. DeJesus then stepped into the box - needing only a home run to hit for the cycle. Adkins got DeJesus to look at strike three, and the Vols then called right-handed reliever Chase Hardin out of the bullpen. Hardin retired the next two batters, but UK did manage to scratch a run on an RBI groundout by Collin Cowgill, trimming the Vols' lead to one run.
UT's junior closer, Sean Watson, entered the game in the top of the eighth with the Vols clinging to a 6-5 lead. Pinch-hitter Michael Bertram led off with a double, however, and then took third on a passed ball. An RBI sacrifice fly by Shelby scored Bertram, and Watson retired the next two Wildcats batters to head into the bottom of the eighth deadlocked at 6-6.
Sophomore left-hander James Adkins started on the mound for the Vols but earned a no-decision after allowing five runs on seven hits with a walk and six Ks. With Watson logging the victory, the UT bullpen is now 6-1 this season with seven saves.
Kentucky starting pitcher Aaron Tennyson was chased after being touched for six runs (five earned) on seven hits with no walks and a pair of strikeouts. Wildcats relievers Dewayne Oxford and Adam Revelette combined to toss 2 1/3 shutout innings before Matt Robinson took the hill and allowed the game-winning run in the eighth. Robinson took the loss to fall to 1-1 on the year.
Arencibia went 2-for-4 in the game with one run and three RBIs. Delmonico drove in two runs on two hits, and Edmundson collected a pair of hits as well.
The Vols improved to 12-1 in games in which a UT player homers, and the win also marked Tennessee's ninth comeback victory of the year.
The series resumes Saturday at 2 p.m. Junior right-hander Craig Cobb (4-0, 1.75 ERA) will start for Tennessee, and senior left-hander Craig Snipp (4-0, 1.69 ERA) will take the hill for the Wildcats.