April 5, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Freshman Nathaniel Maggio delivered a walk-off single to left field on a full count with two outs in the ninth to lift the No. 25 Vols over No. 4 Vanderbilt, 10-9, in a wild game at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Saturday night. The win evens the series between the in-state SEC rivals.
Tennessee (20-9, 4-7) was behind 9-8 with two outs and down to its last strike when the lefty, who had just two hits in his last 27 at-bats, drove one the opposite way off one of the nation's top closers in Vandy's Carson Fulmer. Maggio, who was brought on as a defensive substation in the top of the ninth, delivered UT's third walk off of the 2014 season.
The victory snaps a six-game skid against Vanderbilt (25-7, 6-5) and gives the Vols their first win over a top-five team since beating Florida, 5-4, on April 14, 2012.
"This was one of the wildest games I've ever been a part of," said head coach Dave Serrano. "There were a lot of great things that happened; there were a lot of really bad things that happened, but I think you can hear over my shoulder 34 guys that just had 1,000 pounds lifted off their shoulders. They're young men that love each other, are fighting for each other, want to win for each other, and want to win for all the alumni and this great university.
"We've hit a rut, and I think something like tonight, hopefully I'll look back years from now and say that on April 5, 2014, an ugly, but great victory over Vanderbilt was the turning point. I know it's just one game and I'm not trying to play it up bigger than it is, but we needed that at this time. We needed that as a team and I can't predict what's going to happen tomorrow but I know there will be a lot of guys that show up excited to put on that uniform and come out and compete."
Tennessee started the ninth with a leadoff walk drawn by Scott Price, but he was quickly thrown out at second when pinch hitter Jeff Moberg grounded into a fielder's choice. Vincent Jackson came on to pinch run for Moberg and Christin Stewart drew a full-count walk to put runners on first and second for UT. Tyler Schultz wore a fastball in the first pitch he saw to load the bags for Maggio. The Alpharetta, Ga., native fell behind 0-2 in the count in his first at-bat of the night, but fouled two off and saw three balls before winning the battle against Fulmer. With the runners on the move, Maggio's single brought home Jackson to tie it and Stewart to win it as the throw from Vandy left fielder Bryan Reynolds sailed high.
The Orange and White got a career night out of sophomore outfielder and Knoxville native Derek Lance, who was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBIs in his second start of the season. Senior Will Maddox was 3-for-4 on the night with two bunt singles, while Stewart went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Parker Wormsley, who made his first start of the season, was 1-for-2 with two runs scored as well.
After hitting six doubles on Friday, the Commodores opened the scoring on Saturday with a pair of doubles in the second inning. Vanderbilt scored two runs off the two-baggers and a Tennessee error to take the early 2-0 lead.
Vandy added its third run of the game in the next frame as sophomore Xavier Turner blasted his first career home run over the left field wall on the first pitch he saw.
The bottom of the order got things going for Tennessee in the third inning as Wormsley led off the frame with his first hit of the season - a single into left center. Wormsley moved to second on a passed ball and Lance picked up his first RBI of the season with a single up the middle. Wormsley beat out the throw home with a head-first slide.
Maddox added UT's third-straight single, dropping down a bunt to give the Vols their 16th bunt single of the season. With runners on first and second, A.J. Simcox laid down a sac bunt that Vandy's starting pitcher Jared Miller threw wide of first base. Lance came home on the play to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Vanderbilt hit its second home run of the game and third of the series to lead off the fourth as Vince Conde smashed one over the wall in dead center. The Commodores added another on a wild pitch to extend their lead to 5-2. Conde finished the game 4-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs.
Tennessee had a huge fourth inning - its biggest of SEC play - as the Vols put six runs on the board to take an 8-5 lead on the Dores. UT only had two hits in the inning - a bases-clearing three RBI double down the left field line by Lance and another bunt single by Maddox. The Vols got a lot of help from the Vandy defense as it committed three errors. Lance brought his RBI total to four in the game with his first double of the campaign.
The craziness continued in the fifth inning as Vandy scored four unearned runs to regain the lead at 9-8. The Commodores had three hits, including their fourth double of the night and 10th of the series. Tennessee committed its second error of the game in the inning. In total, 11 of the game's 19 runs were unearned. The teams combined for eight errors.
The late innings ran scoreless until Maggio ended the 3-hour and 54-minute affair.
Bret Marks (2-0) earned the win in relief for the Vols, while Tennessee handed Fulmer his first loss of the season.
The battle for The Volunteer State continues on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Tennessee will start freshman right-hander Kyle Serrano (2-1), while the 'Dores will send out righty Tyler Ferguson (5-0).