TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – No. 6 Tennessee dropped its first series opener of the year, falling 7-4 to Alabama on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The Volunteers (22-5 // 5-2 SEC) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but back-to-back big innings for the Crimson Tide in the fourth and the fifth turned the game.
UT starting pitcher Chad Dallas was solid through the first three innings of the game before running into trouble in the fourth, allowing three runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter before exiting the game.
Like Dallas, the normally stout Sean Hunley did not have his best night either, allowing three runs on a pair of hits in 1.1 innings of work, picking up the loss to drop his record to 4-1 on the year.
Seven different Tennessee players recorded a hit, but Liam Spence was the only Vol to have multiple base knocks in the game, finishing 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and a run scored.
Luc Lipcius provided the Big Orange with an early 1-0 lead, blasting a solo home run to right field in the top of the second inning to open the scoring. It was the fourth homer of the year for the Virginia native.
Tennessee added to its lead with three more runs in the third, using three straight two-out RBI hits from Jake Rucker, Drew Gilbert and Jordan Beck to build a 4-0 lead.
Alabama (16-9 // 2-5 SEC) cut UT’s lead to one with a three-run fourth inning. The Crimson Tide loaded the bases with no outs before plating three runs on a hit batter, fielder’s choice and RBI single to make it a 4-3 game.
The Tide continued their hot hitting in the fifth, taking their first lead on a two-run homer by Sam Praytor. They went on to score one more run in the inning on a sacrifice fly from Drew Williamson to take a 6-4 lead into the sixth. Williamson drove in his third run of the night with a solo home run in the eighth to cap the scoring.
The Vols brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth, but Alabama closer Chase Lee was able to escape the jam and end the game with a strikeout to earn his second save of the season.
The Vols will look to even the series tomorrow night at 7 p.m. ET. Game 2 will be televised on the SEC Network.
ON-BASE STREAKS EXTENDED: Despite the loss, four Vols extended their lengthy on-base streaks on Friday night. Liam Spence (29), Max Ferguson (20), Pete Derkay (14) and Jake Rucker (12) all reached base to extend their streaks.
FIRST SERIES-OPENING LOSS: Friday’s loss to Alabama marked the first loss for Tennessee in a series opener this season. The Vols had won all six of their series openers entering the weekend.