April 22, 2011
KNOXVILLE, TENN,-----Senior Matt Duffy delivered a walk-off single to lift Tennessee to a 5-4 win over Georgia in 10 innings Friday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Tennessee (22-15, 5-11 SEC) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third, sending seven men to the plate and collecting three hits. The No. 8 and 9 hitters ignited the rally. Davis Morgan led off with a base hit and then Chris Fritts was hit by a pitch. After a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Toles, Zach Osborne made it 1-0 with a run-scoring single. The second run came home on a balk by sophomore left-hander Alex Wood. Then, Duffy capped the scoring with a two-out, bloop single to center.
The Bulldogs (19-20, 9-7 SEC) got a run back in the fourth and fifth frames, however left-hander Steve Gruver avoided a big inning with key strikeouts with runners in scoring position. Georgia’s first run scored on a passed ball by Ethan Bennett. In the fifth, a sacrifice fly by third baseman Curt Powell brought Levi Hyams home after he led off the inning with his first career triple. At that point, Georgia was 0-for-8 with four strikeouts and just a sacrifice fly with men in scoring position. Hyams extended his hitting streak to nine games with a leadoff single to start the contest. However, shortstop Kyle Farmer saw his career-best 16-game hitting streak end after going 0-for-4 and was hit by a pitch in the ninth.
In the bottom of the sixth, Khayyan Norfolk reached with a single on a 0-2 pitch and then stole second and third base. He leads the league with 24 stolen bases. With one out, Tyler Horne lined an RBI-single left to make it 4-2 and then Josh Liles followed with another base hit to put runners at the corners. Bennett lined sharply to Powell who caught it and stepped on the third base bag for an inning-ending double play to keep it a two-run game.
In the eighth, Georgia tried to rally again with one out. Zach Cone smacked a single to right and Brett DeLoach (3-for-4) was hit by a pitch to bring up Kevin Ruiz who was 0-for-3 at that point. With a 2-2 count on Ruiz, Tennessee lifted Gruver in favor of freshman right-hander Nick Williams. Ruiz worked a walk to load the bases for junior Jonathan Hester. Williams battled back to strike out Hester. Georgia turned to its bench and sent up freshman pinch-hitter Conor Welton for catcher Brandon Stephens.
Welton ran the count full, fouled off two straight 3-2 offerings and then lined a two-run single up the middle to tie the contest at 4-all. It marked Georgia’s first hit with runners in scoring position, making them 1-for-10 plus a walk and sacrifice fly on the night in that situation. Georgia junior Lance Martin came in to run for Ruiz at second as Verdin stepped up to the plate. He popped out to end the outburst.
Neither starter figured in the decision. Wood allowed four runs on seven hits with no walks and two strikeouts. Gruver went 7.1 innings and surrendered four runs on eight hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Georgia went to its bullpen to start the bottom of the eighth, bringing in sophomore Blake Dieterich. Zach Osborne reached with an infield single but the Bulldogs kept it a tie game going to the ninth. With two outs, Farmer was hit by a pitch and Cone lined a single to left to bring up DeLoach who bounced out as the Bulldogs had stranded 10 runners on the evening.
In the bottom of the 10th, Chris Fritts reached on a leadoff walk and then Toles moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Georgia lifted Dieterich in favor of closer Tyler Maloof to face Osborne. He bounced one to the left off Maloof that tipped off his glove and resulted in an infield single to put runners at the corners. Georgia opted to intentionally walk Norfork to load the bases for Duffy who ended the game with a walk-off single that banged off the right field wall.
“We had too many missed opportunities, they had a big inning early and we never did,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “Alex (Wood) pitched a pretty good game, he battled back after that early three –spot and gave us seven innings. We had too many holes in our lineup. We didn’t get enough good at bats in several places. We got a big pinch-hit from Conor Welton, in fact the freshmen have done well the past two games. We had 11 punch outs, we didn’t hit with runners on, and we didn’t apply enough pressure tonight. We’ve got to get it going on Saturday for sure.”
The series continues Saturday at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs will start junior right-hander Michael Palazzone (6-1, 2.13 ERA) while the Volunteers will counter with senior left-hander Rob Catapano (2-3, 4.70 ERA).