The Tennessee Volunteers (22-18, 7-11 SEC) were swept in a series this past weekend against the Mississippi State Bulldogs (24-16, 8-10 SEC) in Starkville, Miss. Two of the three games went into extra innings, including a 14-inning series finale.
"There really aren't words to describe what transpired this weekend," Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said. "We'll go back to the drawing board and have to come up with some things to get this team over the hump of what we've experienced this weekend, but we are not dead in the water."
The opening game was tabbed as ESPNU's Thursday Night SEC Game of the Week. Junior Zack Godley provided a solid 7.1-inning outing, allowing only one run in the fifth while striking out five. Freshman Will Maddox tied the game with a two-out RBI single in the top of the eighth. The Vols had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the 11th, but a double play ended their chances to go ahead. The game ended with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the frame.
"We allowed a team to stay close to us in a game I thought we should have won," Serrano said. "You have to give credit to (MSU pitcher Chris) Stratton. He was as good as advertised, but I thought Zack Godley was as good as advertised too. He gave us a chance. That was a tough game."
In the second game of weekend, Tennessee tied a season low with three hits in a 7-1 loss. The Vols tied the game in the top of the fourth, in part because of senior shortstop Zach Osborne's leadoff single.
"I knew as a leadoff hitter we needed base runners at the time," Osborne said. "The score was 1-0 so we were definitely in it, and we just needed base runners and people to drive us in."
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth and two more in the bottom of the fifth to put the visiting team away. A bright spot for the Diamond Vols was senior left handed pitcher Josh Allman, who threw for a career-high 3.1 innings in relief work and allowed only one run.
As the weekend series winded down, Tennessee was dealt another heartbreaking loss of 3-2. The game went into extra innings for the second of three times. In the bottom of the 14th, the bases were loaded when a runner stole home on a wild pitch to end the game. The game was the first time since 1999 that it had gone at least 14 innings. The wild pitch ruined an otherwise brilliant night for junior pitcher Nick Blount. He allowed just one run in four innings. The only run that he gave up was unearned.
"I thought Nick Williams threw extremely well," Serrano said. "I thought (junior right handed pitcher Drew Steckenrider) Steck came in after a brilliant effort on Thursday and threw well despite being low on the gas tank, and then you can't ask for much more out of Nick Blount."
Senior outfielder Chris Pierce and freshman infielder Parker Wormsley knocked in the lone two runs of the night.
The Volunteers look to rebound against Austin Peay State University at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.