June 4, 2005
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee freshman pitcher James Adkins put on a stunning performance in his first career NCAA tournament appearance Saturday night. The Freshman All-America candidate struck out a career-high 15 batters as the Volunteers defeated Winthrop 3-2 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
A season-high crowd of 3,370 was on hand as the Vols improved to 43-19. It was the 11th-largest crowd in Lindsey Nelson Stadium's 16-year history.
"I've just got to thank all the fans for showing up (Friday and Saturday,)" UT head coach Rod Delmonico said. "It's been a tremendous atmosphere. You don't know what it means to our players and our coaching staff. You could hear the comments (from our players) in the dugout. I really have to say thank you for showing up. It's meant a lot to our program."
The Vols now face the winner of Sunday's 1 p.m., elimination game between No. 3 seed Wichita State (50-23) and No. 2 seed Winthrop (44-21). Wichita State eliminated No. 4 seed Austin Peay 5-1 in the early game Saturday.
Adkins started for the Vols and walked the Eagles' first batter before finding his rhythm. He struck out 11 of 14 batters at one point and needed just six innings to tie his previous career-high of 12 Ks. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn., native's 15 strikeouts were the most by a UT pitcher all season and gave him a total of 27 Ks in his last two outings.
He scattered just four hits in his third career complete game, which made him a perfect 2-0 in postseason play. His overall record stands at 9-4 this season.
Fellow Vols freshman Julio Borbon went 4-for-4 and drove in what proved to be the game-winning run in the fourth inning.
Borbon smoked a double past Winthrop third baseman Ben Ehrlich to give the Vols a runner in scoring position with one out in the top of the third inning. After a flyball out, junior outfielder Josh Alley singled through the right side of the infield to score Borbon. Later in the inning, SEC Freshman of the Year J.P. Arencibia plated Alley with an RBI single to left field to make the score 2-0 Tennessee.
Rob Fitzgerald led off Tennessee's half of the fourth inning with a double off the wall in right field and was later driven in on an RBI basehit by Borbon to give the Vols a 3-0 lead. Neither team would scratch a run through the next three innings.
The Eagles made things interesting in the bottom of the eighth when pinch-hitter Mitch Saum hit a two-run home run into the left-field bleachers. It was the freshman's first career homer, and it cut the Vols' lead to just one run.
But Adkins recorded two strikeouts and induced a groundout in the bottom of the ninth to put Tennessee just one win away from advancing to its first NCAA Super Regional since 2001.
Winthrop starter Heath Rollins left the game after giving up three run on nine hits in 8 2/3 innings. He took the loss and dropped to 11-6 on the year. Right-hander Jon Wilson worked the final 1/3 inning for the Eagles.