May 27, 2005
HOOVER, Ala. -- The No. 3 seed Tennessee baseball team won its second SEC tournament elimination game in as many days Friday when it rallied to oust No. 6 seed South Carolina 4-1 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The Volunteers got a record-breaking performance from freshman pitcher James Adkins and will now face No. 7 seed Mississippi State Saturday at 10 a.m. CT.
Adkins made his first career postseason start and set a new Tennessee single-game, SEC tournament record with 12 strikeouts. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn., native picked up the win to improve to 8-4 this season. He allowed one run on just three hits in eight outstanding innings on the mound.
The left-handed Freshman All-America candidate now has 101 strikeouts on the year, making him the first freshman in Tennessee history to eclipse the 100-strikeout milestone.
South Carolina put runners on first and third base with one out in the bottom of the second inning, and an RBI sacrifice fly by third baseman Neil Giesler plated outfielder Michael Campbell to give the Gamecocks an early 1-0 lead.
Vols senior Joey Andrews stepped up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning and sent a towering flyball to deep center. Campbell was stationed in shallow center but ran back to make a fantastic falling-down catch to end the inning and rob the Vols of what would have surely been at least a two-RBI extra-base hit.
Gamecocks starter Arik Hempy was lifted after throwing five shutout innings. The lefty scattered five hits, issued one walk and struck out two batters before giving way to right-hander Brent Marsh. The Vols posted one hit in each of the first five innings before Marsh ended that streak in the top of the sixth.
Tennessee mounted another scoring threat when SEC Freshman of the Year J.P. Arencibia came up to bat with runners on the corners and one out in the top of the seventh inning. Arencibia was hit by a pitch with a full count, loading the bases for first-team All-SEC third baseman Headley.
Headley came through for UT, providing the go-ahead runs with a two-RBI single to right-center. That hit set the stage for what would become a four-hit, four-run inning. Junior designated hitter Kelly Edmundson followed Headley to the plate and was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game (tying UT's individual single-game SEC tournament record), re-loading the bases for junior second baseman Michael Rivera.
Rivera drove in one run with an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, and freshman outfielder Julio Borbon capped the inning's scoring by knocking in Headley with an RBI basehit. Tennessee would not relinquish its three-run lead, and the Vols went on to post their 17th comeback victory of the year.
Marsh allowed all four Tennessee runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings of action. He took the loss and fell to 3-3 on the year. Jeff Jeffords, John Gregory and Jason Fletcher combined to give up no runs on one hit with two walks and four strikeouts through the final 2 1/3 innings.
The Vols collected at least one hit in seven different innings and out-hit South Carolina 10-3.
Four Vols batters were hit by pitches in the contest, marking a new Tennessee team single-game record in the SEC tournament. Senior Alex Suarez moved into a tie for first place on UT's all-time hit-by-pitch list when he was plunked for the 39th time in his career (and the 20th time this season).
Friday's game marked the fifth meeting of the season between the Vols and the Gamecocks, with the most recent clash coming Wednesday on the opening day of the conference tournament. South Carolina posted a 12-2 victory in that contest, sending UT into the loser's bracket. The Vols avenged that loss Friday, marking the first time since 1995 that Tennessee has defeated an opponent at least four times in a season.
The win also marked the first time since 1995 that UT has won multiple games in the SEC tournament.
If the Vols beat undefeated Mississippi State Saturday morning, they will have to face the Bulldogs once again Saturday night. Knoxville native Craig Cobb (6-3, 4.92 ERA) is slated to start for Tennessee Saturday morning.