May 14, 2007
With focus squarely on reaching the Southeastern Conference Tournament when they travel to meet the Florida Gators for the final league series beginning Thursday, the Tennessee Volunteers get one last tune up on Tuesday night when they face the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in the final home game of the season. Game time is 7 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Heavy rains and lightning forced the cancellation of the first meeting between the teams on March 27. Play was halted in the top of the fifth inning with the Vols leading 3-2, but the game was not official since it lasted less than five full innings.
A two-run homer by Yan Gomes and an RBI single by J.P. Arencibia spotted UT an early 3-0 lead in the first inning. Eagles catcher Steve Soper quickly cut Tennessee's lead to a single run with a two-run homer of his own in the bottom of the first. The teams proceeded to breeze through three scoreless innings before play was halted.
The Vols (30-22), who are 19-8 against non-conference opposition and have won 13 of their last 14 midweek games, send left-hander Lance McClain (5-5, 4.92 ERA) to the mound to start. He pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief versus South Carolina on Sunday and likely won't pitch more than three against the Golden Eagles.
Right fielder Sean Reilly is riding a season-high 18-game hitting streak to lead Tennessee Tech (24-26). Samford swept the Golden Eagles, who are 7-7 in their last 14 games after dropping seven straight, over the weekend to fall to seventh place in the Ohio Valley Conference. Tech is 1-4 against SEC teams with a victory over Alabama this season.
Right-hander Jake Edwards (5-4, 5.59 ERA) is slated to start for the Eagles who boast a lineup of eight hitters batting over .300, led by Soper's .376 average to go along with 10 home runs and 57 RBI. Pitching has been the Achilles heal with a staff ERA of 6.14 and an opponent batting average of .312.
Tennessee leads the all-time series, 63-27-1, and has won six straight since Tech snapped a 23-game Volunteers series winning streak in 2003. Tech's last win in Knoxville came in 1990.
Following the game, Tennessee travels to Gainesville, Fla., to face Florida in a crucial three-game series. Both teams need to win the series to secure a spot in next week's SEC Tournament. The Gators need one win to be no worse than .500 in league action and possibly gain an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, while Tennessee needs to win one more than LSU and Kentucky to reach the No. 8 spot in the standings.