April 2, 2004
Knoxville, Tenn. - A Kentucky error and a balk led to two runs in the eighth as the No. 13 Tennessee Volunteers escaped with a 3-2 victory over the Wildcats in the first of three games at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Game two will be televised by CSS Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.
After Kentucky (14-11, 2-5 SEC) took a 2-1 lead in the seventh on a bases loaded walk, Tennessee (23-5, 4-3 SEC) got two runners aboard on a single and a hit batsmen before second baseman Jesse Barber bobble a ball hit right at him allowing Chris Kemp to reach on the error. Pinch hitter Brett Chappell then slapped a single to right scoring Josh Alley with the tying run. Following a strikeout, home plate umpire Eddie Loggins called a balk on Matt Scott (4-2) for not getting set as Kyle Norrid trotted in from third with the go-ahead run.
Alley, who led the Vols with two hits, tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth with his team-leading fifth home run.
Spencer Graeter broke open a scoreless game in the fifth as he led off with a double, took third on a sacrifice and scored on a fielders choice for a 1-0 Kentucky lead.
Kentucky took a 2-1 lead in the seventh as it loaded the bases on a single and two walks, the last intentional. That would mark the end of Tennessee starter Derek Tharpe who matched his career high with 12 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Reliever Scot Drucker (4-1) came on and walked pinch hitter Billy Grace on a 3-1 pitch scoring Barber.
Tharpe, who surrendered two runs on five hits with five walks, kept the Wildcats at bay through the first five innings by striking out 10. He and Drucker combined to strikeout a season-high 16 batters while giving up just six hits.
The Vols saw a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh go by the wayside as Nick Crowe, who led off with a single to left, was thrown at home trying to score on Brian Cleveland's double for the second out.
Kalen Gibson turned a strong seven-inning performance as he limited the Vols to one run on five hits with four strikeouts and three walks. After giving up two first-inning hits, he held Tennessee to just Alley's home run over the next five before being bailed out in the seventh.