April 1, 2012
The Volunteers (17-10, 4-4 SEC) have now won four straight games over the Crimson Tide (9-18, 1-7) including two wins in Tuscaloosa last season, marking the longest winning streak over Alabama in school history, dating back to the start of the rivalry in 1897.
UT will go for its fifth straight win and the series sweep in the second game of the modified doubleheader which is set to be a seven-inning affair, starting at 2 p.m. Sophomore Nick Williams (2-2, 1.71) will get the start for the Orange and White.
After throwing 1.2 innings on Saturday, junior Drew Steckenrider came back with two more scoreless frames on Sunday to pick up his second win of the year. He finished with 3.2 shutout innings, striking out four. Fellow classmate Nick Blount recorded his fourth save in four games, leaving the tying run stranded on base in a scoreless ninth. Blount has earned a save in each of Tennessee's last five victories.
Alabama stranded a total of 14 runners in the contest, to just five for the Big Orange. UT junior Davis Morgan was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI, while Chris Pierce drove in a pair of runs.
Just like series opener on Friday, Alabama started the scoring with a solo home run by Brett Booth and an RBI groundout from Jared Reaves putting the Tide up 2-0.
The Big Orange had a big answer once again, dropping a four-spot in a frame for the third time in two days in the bottom of the fourth. Zach Luther drew a four-pitch leadoff walk and came home to score just two batters later when Morgan drove a 3-1 pitch to the wall in left-center for a double.
Jared Allen was then hit by a pitch before a single to center by Chris Fritts loaded the bases, setting up a two-run single to left by Pierce. The Vols then tacked on another run when Zach Osborne lifted a sac fly to center.
Alabama threatened to cut into the UT advantage or even gain the lead outright when it loaded the bases with just one out in the top of the fifth thanks to a hit batter and back-to-back walks. The Vols called on Steckenrider out of the bullpen and he delivered, inducing a 4-6-3 double play to escape the jam unscathed.
Morgan singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Following a flyout, a lightning strike within close vicinity of the stadium forced a delay. It appeared the weather had passed and the tarp was being pulled when another lightning strike prompted another delay. A short time later, a strong hail storm and heavy rain forced the officials to postpone the contest.
After coming back out to the mound on Sunday and working a quick seventh inning, Steckenrider had to escape a bit of a tight spot in the eighth. The Tide put runners on the corners with a one-out walk and a two-out single, but Steckenrider buckled down to get a groundball to second to end the threat.
In the ninth, Alabama greeted Blount with back-to-back singles to lead things off and bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but a weak pop-up to short, strikeout and groundout back to the mound finished off the Tennessee victory.