May 12, 2006
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Tennessee seniors Michael Rivera and Kelly Edmundson each delivered two vital RBIs to power the Volunteers baseball team to a 5-4 road win over 15th-ranked South Carolina Friday night at Sarge Frye Field. Edmundson crushed a two-run homer in the eighth that proved to be the difference as Vols juniors Craig Cobb and Sean Watson combined to pitch UT to its 18th comeback victory of the season.
The Vols improved to 29-20 (10-14 SEC) with the win, while the Gamecocks fell to 33-17 (13-12 SEC). Tennessee has won five of its last six games against South Carolina.
Cobb was touched for four runs (three earned) on nine hits through eight innings. The Knoxville, Tenn., native continues to make a case for SEC Pitcher of the Year consideration, as he boasts a sterling 9-2 record with a 2.85 ERA. Friday marked his fifth Southeastern Conference victory of the year, and his 19th career triumph.
Watson earned his 10th save of the year by tossing a shutout ninth inning.
Trailing 3-2 with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, Tennessee received a two-RBI single from Rivera that gave the Vols their first lead of the night. On the eve of his 21st birthday, Rivera hit what appeared destined to be a sacrifice fly to centerfield. But South Carolina outfielder Michael Campbell lost the ball in the lights, allowing two Vols to score when the ball landed behind him.
Edmundson's blast in the top of the eighth gave UT a 5-2 lead. It was the senior's fifth homer of the season and the 16th of his career.
South Carolina opened the game's scoring in the bottom of the second inning, using an RBI basehit by first baseman Justin Smoak to take an early 1-0 lead.
Vols left fielder Jarred Frazier led off the third with an infield single and then stole second before advancing to third on a groundout. He attempted to steal home with two outs and was called out on a close play at the plate to end the inning.
Gamecocks second baseman Chris Brown scored from third on an RBI single by outfielder Andrew Crisp in the bottom of the third, giving South Carolina a 2-0 advantage. Tennessee closed out the bottom of the frame with a rare 5-3-2 double play, as Vols catcher J.P. Arencibia tagged out Crisp as he tried to advance from first to third on a groundout.
The Vols scratched their first run in the top of the sixth when first baseman Chris Kemp scored from second on an RBI basehit by Arencibia. Kemp had previously reached on a one-out double to left field. Tennessee went on to load the bases and set the stage for Rivera's go-ahead hit.
South Carolina drew a pair of leadoff walks in the bottom of the seventh and eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but Cobb got Crisp to fly out to right field, ending the threat. The Gamecocks refused to relent, however, plating two runs on three hits in the bottom of the eighth to pull within one run, 5-4. Trent Kline and Smoak each delivered RBI singles during the rally.
The Gamecocks logged a hit and a walk in the bottom of the ninth, putting the potential game-winning on first base, but Watson held on to record his 17th career save.
South Carolina starter Wynn Pelzer fell to 4-3 after giving up five runs on 10 hits during a respectable complete-game effort.
Tennessee and Carolina both posted 10 hits and one error on the day. But the Gamecocks stranded 10 baserunners (including six in the final three innings) to just six men left on base for UT.
Vols head coach Rod Delmonico is now one win shy of recording his 250th career SEC victory.
The series resumes Saturday at noon with Preseason All-America left-hander James Adkins (7-5, 4.19 ERA) starting for Tennessee and right-hander Mike Cisco (5-2, 3.90 ERA) taking the hill for the Gamecocks. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.