COLUMBIA, S.C. – A three-run homer from Brady Allen in the fifth inning was the difference as No. 4 Tennessee fell to No. 15 South Carolina on Friday night at Founders Field.
The Gamecocks evened the series with the win, forcing a decisive rubber game tomorrow afternoon at high noon.
Pete Derkay had his second straight multi-hit night and also scored a run while Jordan Beck finished with a pair of singles, as well. Luc Lipcius and Connor Pavolony drove in the Vols’ two runs on the night with a solo home run and an RBI single in the third and fourth innings.
Will Heflin gave the Big Orange 4.1 quality innings, finishing with six strikeouts while allowing two runs on four hits. Junior right hander Camden Sewell was stellar in relief, striking out five and allowing just one hit in 3.1 innings, but that one hit was Allen’s three-run homer in the fifth that proved to be the difference.
South Carolina starter Brett Kerry was able to hold UT at bay for most of the night, scattering seven hits and allowing just two runs while striking out eight batters in seven innings.
Just like Thursday’s game, the Vols opened the scoring with a run in the top of the third inning to take a 1-0 lead. Derkay led off with a double off the left-field wall and came around to score one batter later on an RBI single by Pavolony.
Lipcius extended Tennessee’s lead to two with his second home run of the series, a solo shot to right field with two outs in the fourth inning. It was the 11th long ball of the year for the redshirt-junior first baseman.
After threatening and coming up empty in the fourth, the Gamecocks led off the fifth with a pair of singles to put pressure on Heflin once again. After a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, UT went to the bullpen to try and escape the jam. However, Allen went deep off of Camden Sewell to give the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead before Sewell retired the next two batters to end the inning.
The Vols had a chance to tie or retake the lead in the top of the seventh with runners on second and third with only one out, but Kerry got Pavolony and Liam Spence to pop up to escape the jam unscathed and preserve Carolina’s one-run lead.
Julian Bosnic pitched two scoreless innings to finish the game and earn his fourth save of the year.
Tennessee will look to take the series and secure a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament with a win in tomorrow’s rubber game, which will begin at noon and be televised on the SEC Network.
DERKAY HAVING SOLID SERIES: Vols’ designated hitter Pete Derkay is putting together one of his best series of the season. After a 2-for-3 performance on Friday, the Georgia native is now 4-for-7 with three runs scored, two doubles and an RBI in the series.
DECISIVE RUBBER GAME: Tennessee is no stranger to rubber games this season, having played in six already this year. The Vols are 4-2 in those games, including a perfect 3-0 record on the road. A win on Saturday would clinch a top-four seed and a first-round bye in next week’s SEC Tournament.