May 25, 2007
HOOVER, Ala. -- The Tennessee baseball team had no answer for Vanderbilt pitcher Mike Minor Friday, as the left-hander allowed just two hits in 7 2/3 innings while handing the eighth-seeded Volunteers a 15-2 loss at Regions Park that eliminated the Big Orange from the SEC Tournament. Tennessee's overall record stands at 34-25 on the year.
Tennessee now waits to learn its fate for the 2007 NCAA Division I Baseball Championships. The Vols qualify for an at-large bid, but exactly how many SEC teams will earn selections is unknown. The 64-team bracket is slated to be announced Monday at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN. Tennessee has made eight previous NCAA appearances under 18th-year head coach Rod Delmonico.
Vols starting pitcher Nick Hernandez induced consecutive groundouts to begin the top of the first inning Friday but then hit a batter and followed that up with a base on balls. Both two-out baserunners proved costly, as an RBI single by Ryan Flaherty and an infield error enabled both to score and give the Commodores an early 2-0 lead.
Top-seeded and nationally No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt (48-11) doubled its lead in the second inning courtesy of a two-run double off the left-field wall by second baseman Alex Feinberg. With Tennessee then facing a four-run deficit, Delmonico brought sophomore Aaron Everett out of the bullpen for his second relief appearance of the tournament.
Everett struck out the first batter he faced, but VU third baseman Pedro Alvarez then got a two-out, RBI double to drop into far left field. Feinberg came home on the play, putting Vanderbilt on top 5-0.
Commodores starting pitcher Mike Minor held the Vols hitless until All-America catcher J.P. Arencibia laced a line-drive single in the bottom of the fourth. Designated hitter Jeff Lockwood added another basehit later in the inning, but nothing materialized as Minor worked out of the inning unscathed.
Vandy scored one run on two hits in the sixth, but the damage could have been much worse. The Commodores put runners on the corners with no outs, but UT managed consecutive putouts at home plate before an RBI single by VU outfielder Dominic de la Osa pushed the Dores lead to six.
The Vols' third hit of the night came in the form of a one-out double by centerfielder Julio Borbon in the bottom of the sixth. He moved to third on a flyball by Arencibia, but Minor responded with his sixth strikeout of the game to end the threat and keep the potential shutout intact.
Vols third baseman Cody Brown was hit by a de la Osa line drive in the eighth inning and was forced to leave the game. That hit loaded the bases for Vanderbilt, and Alvarez then delivered a two-run single. Alvarez's basehit marked VU's 10th hit of the game and stretched the Commodores lead to eight runs.
Tennessee finally broke through in the runs column in the bottom of the eighth. After leading off the frame with a double, UT shortstop Danny Lima came home on a double to left field by Arencibia. Vols first baseman Yan Gomes then drove in Arencibia on the next at-bat to make the score 8-2. Minor then gave way to Dores reliever Ty Davis, who worked the final 1 1/3 innings.
After loading the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth, Vanderbilt poured on seven insurance runs to bring the final score to 15-2.
Everett worked a career-high 6 1/3 inning and was touched for three runs on six hits with one walk and a career-high six strikeouts. Lockwood pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for Tennessee.
Minor allowed two runs and struck out eight while improving to 9-1 on the year. Hernandez fell to 4-4 with the loss.
Tennessee junior Andy Simunic stole second base in the bottom of the first inning, making him the current SEC leader with 29 steals on the year. The first-year Vol from Collierville, Tenn., passed Auburn's Bruce Edwards, who logged 28 steals during the regular season.
The Vols' top hitters during the SEC Tournament were Lockwood and second baseman Tony Delmonico. Lockwood went 5-for-11 (.455) in UT's three games, and Delmonico hit .364 with four RBIs and a pair of home runs. Tennessee now sports a 25-21 SEC Tournament record in 12 all-time appearances in the event.