May 12, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee baseball team held seventh-ranked South Carolina to six hits Saturday while evening the weekend series between the teams with a 4-3 victory at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Nick Hernandez, Aaron Everett and Jeff Lockwood all turned in solid performances on the mound to help lift the Volunteers to 30-21 (11-13 SEC) on the year. It was UT's sixth win in 11 one-run games in Southeastern Conference play.
The Vols look to clinch their third straight SEC series in Sunday's finale, with first pitch set for 2 p.m.
Hernandez enjoyed the best start of his young career, allowing two runs on two hits through five innings. The freshman from Miami, Fla., improved to 4-2 with his first SEC win. Everett surrendered one run in three effective innings of relief before Lockwood came on in the ninth and earned his team-leading sixth save of the year.
Lockwood also started as Tennessee's designated hitter, and Saturday's contest marked the sixth game this season in which the freshman has driven in at least one run while also logging a win or save out of the bullpen. A former standout at Knoxville's Halls High School, Lockwood leads the Vols with a .345 batting average in SEC play.
One of the game's most crucial plays was of the defensive variety, when Vols catcher J.P. Arencibia picked off Carolina second baseman Travis Jones at first base in the eighth inning. Gamecocks first baseman Justin Smoak homered two batter later, but it only cut UT's lead to one run rather than tying the game as it would had Jones still been on base.
Vols second baseman Tony Delmonico had three of Tennessee's eight hits on the day, and he drove in a pair of runs while raising his overall season average to .313.
After Hernandez retired the Gamecocks in order in the top of the first inning, Tennessee jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the frame. The Big Orange offense came by way of consecutive RBIs by first baseman Yan Gomes, Lockwood and Delmonico. It marked the first time UT scored first in an SEC game since the series-finale at LSU April 29.
South Carolina designated hitter Phil Disher put the Gamecocks (37-15, 14-12 SEC) on the board in the fourth inning with a towering solo homer into the left field bleachers. It was Carolina's fourth home run of the series, as it used three longballs to down the Vols in Friday's series-opener.
Delmonico drove in his second run of the night with a fifth-inning double deep in the left-center gap, and Gamecocks starting pitcher Harris Honeycutt then issued a one-out walk to Vols third baseman Cody Brown to load the bases. Honeycutt escaped without incurring further damage, however, as he induced a 3-2-3 double-play ball on which Lockwood was put out at the plate.
Hernandez gave way to Everett after Jones drew a leadoff walk in the sixth. Gamecocks third baseman James Darnell greeted Everett with a basehit that put runners on the corners with no outs, and Smoak then cut the UT lead to two runs with an RBI sacrifice fly.
Honeycutt was lifted with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning after a 10-pitch at-bat by Lockwood raised Honeycutt's pitch total to 130. The right-hander was touched for four runs on six hits through 6 2/3 innings. He fell to 7-5 with the loss. Curtis Johnson worked the final 1 1/3 innings for South Carolina.
The Vols turned two double plays Saturday, increasing their league-leading total to 58 on the year.
Tennessee's starting pitcher Sunday will be senior Craig Cobb (7-4, 5.18 ERA), while freshman right-hander Blake Cooper (6-1, 2.76 ERA) gets the start for South Carolina.