May 9, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
ATHENS, Ga. - Paced by a two home run, eight-RBI performance by junior Cody Hawn, the University of Tennessee baseball team was able to shrug off an eighth-inning comeback by Georgia, scoring seven times in the top of the ninth to finish off its first Southeastern Conference series sweep of the season with a 14-11 triumph on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Foley Field in Athens, Ga.
"You have to give credit to Georgia, they really fought back today, but I was really proud of our team for coming back in the ninth and responding like they did," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said."When we look back at this game when the season is over, I think it will be a huge win for us. Cody was obviously locked in today and he did a tremendous job. He's a special hitter and he carried us today."
Hawn became the first UT player in 12 years to drive in eight runs in a single game, finishing the contest 3-for-5 with a grand slam in the first inning, an RBI single in the second and a three-run home run in the ninth. Sonny Cortez is the last Volunteer to accomplish the feat, doing so against North Carolina State on Jan. 30, 1998. Joe Randa holds the school record for RBIs in a single game with 10 against Louisville on April 23, 1991.
With his two round-trippers on Sunday, Hawn moved into a tie for fifth on the Tennessee career home runs list with a two-year total of 33. He is tied with J.P. Arencibia and Jeff Christensen and stands just five behind Todd Helton's school-leading mark of 38 which he set from 1993-95.
Junior Josh Liles also had a tremendous day at the plate, collecting four hits in five at-bats and scoring four runs for the second consecutive day. Liles recorded the eventual game-winning hit in the ninth, ripping a single to left to plate a pair of runners. Freshman Chris Fritts, meanwhile, set a career high with three hits in the contest and crossed the plate on two occasions.
The sweep is Tennessee's second of the season (Xavier) and first in conference play since it took all three on the road at Vanderbilt to end the 2009 campaign. Sunday's victory improved UT's record to 27-21 overall and 11-13 in SEC action.
As a team, the Vols finished the weekend with a team batting average of .391, led by eight hits from Liles. Hawn had three longballs in the three games against the Bulldogs, while juniors P.J. Polk and Blake Forsythe added two each. In all, Tennessee scored 43 runs, the most it has had in a single series since it scored 47 times in a three-game set against Radford in 2005. It was also perfect on the basepaths, stealing 11 bases in 11 attempts.
With both UT and Alabama both winning on Sunday, the Big Orange remains in sole possession of the eighth and final spot in the SEC Tournament to be held in Hoover, Ala., May 26-31.
After Georgia scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth, the Vols found themselves trailing 9-7 with just three outs to play with. They didn't even blink though, tying the contest in almost no time at all. Forsythe got things started with a grounder to the hole at short, which he beat out to first for an infield single. Duffy then walked and Fritts laid down a perfect sac bunt. The throw from the third baseman on the bunt sailed past the first baseman and Forsythe came home to score easily on the error to cut UT's deficit to just one.
With the bases loaded and nobody out after an intentional walk to pinch hitter Charley Thurber, sophomore Zach Osborne lifted the first pitch he saw to center for a sacrifice fly that tied the game. Senior Cody Grisham then pinch hit and loaded the bases once again with an infield single to third. Liles followed with a first-pitch single to left that brought home Fritts and pinch-runner Drew Steckenrider to give the Orange and White a lead it would not relinquish. Hawn would add to the lead just two batters later when he blasted his second longball of the afternoon, a three-run shot to right-center that put the score at 14-9 in favor of UT.
Georgia would score two runs in the bottom of the ninth on back-to-back doubles and a sacrifice fly, but sophomore Matt Ramsey would hold the Bulldogs off the rest of the way to record his fourth win of the season. Cooper Moseley suffered the loss for UGA, dropping his record to 0-3 after allowing six runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks in 2.2 innings of work.
The Big Orange got the game started with a bang, scoring four runs on just one swing of the bat before recording an out. UGA starter Alex McCree struggled with his command, walking two batters, hitting another and throwing two wild pitches before he was lifted from the game after throwing just one strike in 11 pitches. Hawn then took the first offering from Michael Palazzone and crushed it high off the batter's eye in straight-away center for a grand slam, his 10th home run of the season. UT would get two more hits in the frame, but would not be able to scratch across another run.
Georgia would threaten to get back in it in the bottom of the first with the first two batters reaching base, but UT starter Bryan Morgado was able to escape unscathed thanks to an interesting play. After a sac bunt moved the runners up to second and third, Zach Cone ripped a liner to left that Polk made a nice diving play on for the second out. The runner on third tried to tag up and score, but Polk immediately tossed the ball to Duffy who touched third. Home plate umpire Scott Erby then ruled that the runner had not waited until the catch was made and called him out to end the frame.
Tennessee continued to pad its lead with single tallies in the second and third to take a 6-0 advantage. Liles manufactured the run in the second, getting a one-out single and stealing second before coming home on a base-knock by Hawn down the right-field line. Fritts took Liles' example and followed it, doing the exact same thing in the third, scoring on a single by Osborne up the middle.
Georgia finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth, using a single, a balk and an RBI groundout to make it 6-1. The Bulldogs then scored twice more in the fifth to cut UT's lead to three with two doubles, a single and a sac fly. The Vols then tacked on another run in the top of the sixth when Liles repeated his performance from the second with a single and a stolen base. This time it was Polk that drove him in though.
The score would remain 7-3 in favor of the Big Orange before Georgia took its first lead of the day by putting up a six spot in the eighth on six hits, including two home runs, and an error. Fortunately for fans of UT, the Vols had one more big inning in them, batting around for the fifth time on the weekend and scoring seven runs in the top of the ninth.
The Orange and White will return to Knoxville for a 7 p.m. contest against Middle Tennessee State on Wednesday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium before hitting the road once again for a three-game set at Auburn next weekend. For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.