April 7, 2007
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Tennessee baseball team responded to below-freezing temperatures Saturday with boiling-hot bats, using a combined 29 hits and four home runs to sweep an awkwardly situated doubleheader against 11th-ranked Kentucky at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The Volunteers posted dominating victories of 11-5 and 12-2 while clinching the series and improving to 20-12 (6-5 SEC) on the year.
With no delay, the teams moved directly from the final out of Game 1 into the final inning of Game 2 (a contest which had already seen its first eight innings played out earlier in the day).
The game picked up in the top of the ninth with Tennessee leading 9-2. The
Vols poured on three runs on three hits in the final frame, and freshman Jeff
Lockwood held Kentucky scoreless in its half of the inning to put the
finishing touches on a 12-2, Game 2 triumph that capped a rare two-win day on
the road in the Southeastern Conference.
Vols senior Craig Cobb was his usual, efficient self in Game 1, improving to 6-2 on the year while surrendering five runs on eight hits through eight full innings with seven strikeouts.
Game 1 included two home runs by Vols sophomore third baseman Cody Brown. The Knoxville, Tenn., native was 3-for-3 from the plate in the contest, tying a career-high in hits and establishing a new career mark for total bases with 10.
Kentucky's first hit of the game plated its first run, as Cats first baseman Sawyer Carroll drove in leadoff man Antone DeJesus with an RBI single in the bottom of the first.
The Vols struck back in the top of the second when Kentucky right fielder Mike Brown was unable to make a diving catch on a ball looped into shallow right field by Simunic with two outs. Lima scored from second base on the play, tying the game at 1-1.
Kentucky (24-6-1 (4-6-1 SEC) regained control of the affair with three runs on three hits in the third. A sacrifice bunt by Carroll moved a pair of Wildcats into scoring position, and the Vols then intentionally walked UK designated hitter Sean Coughlin to load the bases with one out. Matt McKinney then brought home Antone DeJesus with an RBI sacrifice fly, and Brian Spear laced a two-run double off the wall in left-center to put Kentucky up by three, 4-1.
Brown smacked a solo homer over the left-field wall in the fifth, trimming the Wildcats' lead to a pair of runs, 4-2. It was Brown's fourth home run of the year and the seventh of his career, but it was only his first of the game.
The Vols continued to battle in the top of the sixth, eventually taking the lead with three runs in the frame as UK used four different pitchers before the third out was recorded. Catcher Yan Gomes led off with a basehit that was followed by a double by Lockwood that moved Gomes to third. Kentucky head coach John Cohen then decided to pull starting pitcher Andrew Albers in favor of closer Aaron Lovett.
Lima was the first batter to face the right-handed Lovett, and Lima logged an RBI single when McKinney mistakenly threw the ball to third base thinking that there was a force play at that base when there wasn't. Gomes came home on the play, and Brown drew a walk after Lima's at-bat to load the bases with no outs.
Vols head coach Rod Delmonico then sent left-handed hitter Shawn Griffin to the plate as a pinch-hitter for left fielder Jarred Frazier, and Griffin ripped a fielder's choice grounder to Carroll at first base, whose throw to the plate was dropped by Cats catcher Tyler Howe, allowing Lockwood to score and tie the game at 4-4.
Lovett recorded a strikeout before giving way to left-hander James Paxton, who was summoned to the mound to face Vols left-hander Julio Borbon. Borbon plated Lima with an RBI fielder's choice that put the Vols on top by a score of 5-4. Brock Baber was called out of the UK bullpen following Borbon's go-ahead RBI, and Baber got Delmonico to ground out and end the half-inning.
Cobb retired the side 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth, using a pair of strikeouts. Brown then led off the top of the seventh with his second solo home run of the game, giving him his second RBI of the contest and his first career multi-homer game. Griffin scored later in the inning on an RBI sacrifice bunt by Tony Delmonico, extending UT's lead to three runs. Arencibia then bumped it up to five runs with a towering, two-run blast. It was Arencibia's third homer of the year and the 28th of his career.
Kentucky scored its fifth and final run of the day when Jason Kipnis came home on an RBI double by DeJesus in the bottom of the eighth. But the Vols didn't let up, using three consecutive ninth-inning doubles to take an 11-5 lead. Griffin's bases-clearing two-bagger capped the barrage and gave the first-year Vol his third multi-RBI game of the season.
Cobb's first strikeout of the day - a swinging K against Coughlin in the first inning - was the 200th of Cobb's career. He now ranks eighth on UT's all-time strikeouts list with 206 for his career.
Adkins was the winning pitcher in Game 1, improving to 4-4 on the year.
The Vols have won six of their last seven regionally or nationally televised games (and 10 of their last 13).
Since the second game to start Saturday was actually the first to finish, it was labeled as Game 1. The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. Tennessee will send sophomore left-hander Lance McClain (5-3, 5.52 ERA) to the mound while the Wildcats will throw right-hander Greg Dombrowski (3-1, 4.42 ERA).