April 18, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Trailing 8-0 after five, No. 29 Tennessee battled back and brought the game-tying run to the plate in the eighth, but the rally fell short as No. 8 Alabama closed the door to take the series opener on Friday night, 8-5.
"A loss is a loss and a Friday night loss continues to sting but I'm proud of our team," said head coach Dave Serrano. "That might confuse some people, but we're going up against a pretty good Friday guy, we're down 8-0 and could have easily folded the tents. But our guys had different thoughts in mind.
"We get some momentum - and I'm a firm believer in those types of games when you let the other team back in - it carries over to the next couple of days. That's what I'm hoping for and holding onto - the momentum and the confidence we built when we were down 8-0 to be one swing away in the eighth inning from tying the game - it has to carry over for our guys."
Junior Will Maddox started the late rally for the Vols (24-12, 6-10) with a solo home run to right center to lead off the sixth inning, cutting the lead to 8-1. It was just the second hit of the game for UT, both coming off the bat of the Gainesville, Ga., native.
Tennessee scored three more runs on three hits in the seventh, trimming the Crimson Tide's (27-11, 11-5) advantage to 8-4 and keeping the momentum going. Freshman Nathaniel Maggio drew a one-out walk and catcher Tyler Schultz was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Vincent Jackson delivered the first hit, doubling down the left field line to drive in Maggio. It was only the third RBI in the last 12 games for the sophomore.
Following a Maddox groundout back to the pitcher, A.J. Simcox drove in his seventh run of the season with an infield single and Christin Stewart delivered a two-out line drive RBI single through the right side to bring home Jackson and cut the deficit to four.
The Vols looked like they would continue the spark in the eighth inning, loading the bases with just one out. However, UT could only manage to plate one run off a pinch-hit sac fly by Derek Lance as Alabama closer Thomas Burrows closed the door with a five-out save, his seventh of the season.
Alabama ace Spencer Turnbull gave up just three hits and struck out eight over 6 1/3 innings to improve to 5-2 on the season. UT starter Nick Williams struggled from the get-go, giving up season-highs in hits (10) and runs (8). Williams (4-4) also tied a season high with six strikeouts.
Junior college transfer Peter Lenstrohm kept the Orange and White in the game and gave the Vols a chance late with his relief performance. The Paradise Valley, Ariz., native allowed no hits, no walks and struck out a season-best five over 4 1/3 innings. Lenstrohm retired 11 of his first 12 batters faced and the right-hander sat down the Crimson Tide in order in his final three frames.
Alabama got to Williams early on Friday night, compiling seven hits over the first three stanzas. The Crimson Tide started the third inning with four straight hits - a double and three singles - and got some help from the Vols as Taylor Smart committed a throwing error to bring home the game's first run. With the bases loaded and two outs, Williams was called for a balk, bringing home the second run for UA. The Tide added two more in the frame off a Casey Hughston bloop single into left field.
Tennessee got its first base runner and first hit of the game in the bottom half of the third, as Maggio led off with a walk. Later in the frame, Maddox put runners on the corners with a two-out single up the middle off Turnbull, but the Vols got nothing out of it as Simcox groundout to the shortstop on the first pitch he saw.
Following a leadoff walk by nine-hole hitter Will Haynie, the Crimson Tide extended its lead to 5-0 in the fourth with a two-out RBI single through the left side of the infield by Ben Moore.
Williams gave up a pair of runs on wild pitches and surrendered his third home run of the season as Haynie sent a solo shot over the right field wall to give Alabama an 8-0 lead. After giving up the long ball, Williams was pulled for Lenstrohm, who struck out the final batter of the inning and allowed UT to mount the rally.
Game two between the Vols and Crimson Tide is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. Tennessee will send out freshman right-hander and Murfreesboro native Hunter Martin (2-2) to face southpaw Justin Kamplain (3-2).