May 25, 2005
HOOVER, Ala. -- The No. 3 seed Tennessee baseball team was defeated by No. 6 seed South Carolina 12-2 Wednesday afternoon on the opening day of the 2005 SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Gamecocks senior Aaron Rawl limited the Volunteers to just eight hits, while South Carolina's 18 hits tied for the most that UT has ever allowed in the event.
Rawl allowed two runs while walking one and striking out four in 8 2/3 innings of action. South Carolina improved to 38-19 on the year, while Tennessee fell to 39-18.
Tennessee now faces No. 2 seed LSU (38-19) Thursday at 10 a.m. CT. The Tigers lost to No. 7 seed Mississippi State 9-2 in the opening game of the tournament Wednesday morning. Thursday's contest will be televised on CSS.
National-player-of-the-year candidate Luke Hochevar (13-2, 1.93 ERA) will start for UT Thursday, while LSU sends Clay Dirks (10-2, 3.15 ERA) to the hill. The Vols lost two of three games versus the Tigers in Baton Rouge, La., earlier this month, with the lone win coming during Hochevar's Friday start.
Tennessee's scoring began Wednesday when Headley drove in junior Eli Iorg with an RBI double to left-center with one out in the bottom of the first. SEC Freshman of the Year J.P. Arencibia advanced to third on the play, and later scored on an RBI groundout by fellow freshman Borbon to make the score 2-0 heading into the second inning. The runs would mark UT's only offensive production of the day.
South Carolina countered with four runs on five hits while batting around in the top of the second. Neil Geisler made it a one-run game when he scored on an RBI double by Tommy King, and back-to-back infield hits by the Gamecocks then loaded the bases with just one out. Michael Campbell knocked in King to tie the score at two, and shortstop Steven Tolleson put South Carolina ahead with a two-RBI single.
The Gamecocks made the score 5-2 when King's second RBI double of the day plated Geisler in the top of the fifth.
In the top of the sixth inning, South Carolina put runners on first and second base with no outs, and Steve Pearce drove in Campbell from second with an RBI double that landed just inside the line in left field. Tennessee then turned to its bullpen, and senior right-hander Joey Andrews entered the game with men on second and third base and no outs. Tolleson scored on an RBI groundout by Chris Brown, and the Gamecocks took a 7-2 lead into the bottom of the inning.
South Carolina continued to pile it on in the top of the seventh, tallying four runs on three hits in the inning. Davy Gregg led off with a single but ended up reaching third base on a throwing error. He scored one batter later on a single by Campbell. Pearce then connected on a three-run homer that cleared the wall in left field and gave the Gamecocks a commanding 11-2 lead.
After taking third base on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth, Pearce plated South Carolina's 12th and final run of the game.
Senior right-hander Chris Howell made his second career start for Tennessee and allowed seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits with two walks and three strikeouts in a career-high-tying five innings of work. He was credited with the loss and dropped to 1-4 on the year.
Andrews lasted two innings for the Vols and allowed four runs on four hits before giving way to redshirt freshman Chase Hardin, who was touched for one run on four hits through the final two frames.
South Carolina called on right-hander Brent Marsh to finish things off in the bottom third of the ninth.
The Gamecocks tied the all-time tournament record four doubles in a game with nine.