May 26, 2004
Hoover, Ala. - It took nine years, but the Tennessee Volunteers finally snapped a six-game Southeastern Conference Tournament losing streak with a 8-6 13-inning 3-hour 30-minute marathon victory over the top seed Arkansas Razorbacks in the opening round before a crowd of 5,213 at Hoover-Met Stadium.
Chris Kemp's delivered with a game-winning two-out double in the 13th, scoring pinch hitter Rob Fitzgerald who drew a walk. Following a hit batsman, Eli Iorg's fourth hit of the game scored Kemp with an insurance run. Iorg went 4-for-6 with a double and two RBI to lead the Vols who had 10 hits.
With the score tied 3-3, Kyle Norrid hit a two-out three-run double on the first pitch by loser Caton Hall (5-2) in the 12th to put the Vols up 6-3. Kemp started the rally by singling to right. Then with one out, Hall walked Eli Iorg and Todd Martin before striking out Alex Suarez. Norrid then greeted Hall with a liner that rolled to wall in left center only to be thrown out at third.
But the Razorbacks still had fight left in them as they plated three in the bottom of the inning on four straight one-out singles, including a two-run hit by Clay Goodwin and sacrifice fly by Brett Hagedorn that scored Goodwin with the tying run.
Tennessee (37-20) had not won a conference tournament game since defeating Kentucky, 7-2, to win its third consecutive SEC Eastern Division Tournament title in 1995. In their next three trips to the tournament, the Volunteers went 0-2 in 1996, 1997 and 2001.
With the win over the Razorbacks (37-20), the eighth-seeded Vols advance to play No. 5 seed South Carolina, a 7-6 winner over Ole Miss, Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.
Luke Hochevar, who shut out the Razorbacks over the first six innings, limiting them to three hits, took a no decision. Only two runners reached second base during that span until Haas Pratt led off the seventh with his sixth home run.
Hochevar, who struck out six, would allow two more base runners in the inning on a single by Danny Hamblin and his third walk before giving way to Drucker following a Stephen Robison sacrifice. He worked out the jam by getting the next two hitters to strikeout and ground out.
Drucker ran into trouble in the ninth as he gave up a leadoff double to Pratt and a one-out single to Brady Toops before Scott Bridges, a .229 hitter, laced a two-run double with two out off the wall in left field to tie the game.
Tennessee quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first as it loaded the bases on a single by Iorg and two hit batsman before catcher Kelly Edmundson delivered a two-out single up the middle. The Vols would eventually leave the bases loaded after Michael Rivera reached on an error and Brett Chappell flew out to end the inning.
Iorg came through with a clutch hit in the seventh as he singled to right scoring Rivera who singled up the middle and took second on a sacrifice for a 3-0 lead.
Clint Brannon took a no decision by pitching 11 innings to tie the tournament for innings pitched held by Tennessee's R.A. Dickey. After giving up two first-inning runs, he settled down by holding Tennessee to one run on four hits over the next 10 innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
In addition to Pratt and Toops colleting two hits, Rowlett went 3-for-5 with a double and walk to lead the 13-hit Razorback attack.