May 13, 2006

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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A sixth-inning power surge that included home runs from Kelly Edmundson and Tony Delmonico lifted the Tennessee baseball team to a series-clinching 8-7 win over 15th-ranked South Carolina during a nationally-televised affair Saturday afternoon at Sarge Frye Field. Another solo homer by UT catcher J.P. Arencibia in the ninth proved to be the difference.

The Vols improved to 30-20 (11-14 SEC) this season and have now won four of their last five Southeastern Conference series. The Gamecocks fell to 33-18 (13-13 SEC).

The victory gave 17th-year Tennessee head coach Rod Delmonico his 250th career SEC win and also brought him within one victory of tying former Vanderbilt skipper Roy Mewbourne for fourth place on the league's all-time wins list with 665 career triumphs.

Edmundson turned a one-run deficit into a two-run lead with an explosive two-run homer in the sixth inning. His second mammoth homer of the series put the Big Orange up 4-2, but UT's big six-run inning was just getting started. Freshman shortstop Tony Delmonico later sent a three-run bomb over the wall in right field. It was the Knoxville, Tenn., native's third homer of the season and his first while batting left-handed.



The teams dueled through three scoreless innings before Tennessee opened the day's scoring in the top of the fourth. Arencibia scored from first base on an RBI double by Edmundson that hit off the left-field wall.

Tennessee starting pitcher James Adkins had limited South Carolina to just one hit entering the bottom of the fifth, during which the Gamecocks managed two runs on a pair of hits to take a 2-1 lead. Both runs crossed on a two-RBI double by centerfielder Michael Campbell.

The Vols answered by putting two men in scoring position with no outs in the sixth, and that's when Edmundson connected on his sixth home run of the season and the 17th of his career. Edmundson's longball marked the end of South Carolina starter Mike Cisco's afternoon. He gave way to reliever Andrew Cruse after giving up four runs on seven hits with two walks and eight strikeouts through five innings.

Gamecocks designated hitter Jon Willard hit a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 7-3 in favor of UT, and Carolina trimmed the Vols' lead to two runs on a two-RBI double by first baseman Justin Smoak in the seventh.

Carolina loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth but plated just one run on a sacrifice fly by Campbell. Arencibia erased that run in the top of the ninth however, with his solo shot to left field that restored UT's two-run advantage. It was the preseason All-America's ninth home run of the year and the 23rd of his career.

The drama continued in the bottom of the ninth, as Smoak hit a solo homer to once again make it a one-run game, 8-7. Gamecocks third baseman Neil Giesler then singled to bring the potential game-winning run to the plate, but a game-ending double play ensured UT of its fifth win in six contests.

Adkins allowed five runs on five hits with five walks and seven strikeouts through 6 2/3 innings. He left after Smoak's seventh-inning double and picked up the win to improve to 8-5.

Tennessee's junior closer, Sean Watson, worked the final 2 1/3 innings to log his SEC-leading 11th save of the year. He also earned a save in the series-opener Friday night.

Edmundson went 2-for-4 on the day with four RBIs, while Arencibia went 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs.

Cisco fell to 5-3 with the loss and three arms out of the Carolina bullpen combined to let in four runs in the final three frames.

The series concludes Sunday at 1:30 p.m. with freshman right-hander Josh Lindblom (4-5, 4.26 ERA) starting for Tennessee and left-hander Will Atwood (3-1, 4.30 ERA) taking the hill for the Gamecocks.



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