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No. 3 Dores close strong, beat Vols

The Tennessee baseball team dropped another tough game at Vanderbilt on Saturday night, as the third-ranked Commodores score five runs in the eighth inning of an 8-3 win at Hawkins Field.

UT junior pitcher Nick Williams (UT photo)

Junior right-hander Nick Williams threw seven-plus strong innings for the Vols (13-2, 3-5 SEC), who again failed to capitalize on a couple of great chances to tie or take a lead on the Commodores (24-4, 7-1).

Saturday’s loss for UT came on the heels of a tough, 4-3 setback to the Commodores in 12 innings on Friday night.

Here is a full recap from Saturday’s game, courtesy of the UT sports information department.

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MISSED OPPORTUNITIES HAUNT VOLS IN 8-3 LOSS AT VANDY

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Three errors and nine runners left in scoring position were too much for Tennessee to overcome against No. 3 Vanderbilt, which used a five-run eighth inning to break a close game open late and clinch a series victory with an 8-3 triumph on a rainy Saturday evening at Hawkins Field.

Junior Nick Williams gave the Volunteers a chance to win with seven strikeouts in 7.0 strong innings, but his effort wasn't enough as an uncharacteristic lack of execution down the stretch helped set the table for the Commodores' late push.

Trailing by just one run in the top of the eighth, Tennessee had a prime opportunity slip through the cracks. After a pair of walks and a sac bunt put two runners in scoring position with just one out, Vanderbilt was able to thwart the UT threat as Carson Fulmer came out of the bullpen to strike out the next two batters and end the frame.

UT freshman shortstop A.J. Simcox (UT photo)

While the Vols were unable to get a crucial bunt down in that frame, the Commodores were able to do so in the bottom of the inning.

Williams entered the frame having retired 13 of the last 14 batters he had faced but Conrad Gregor ended that run with a leadoff ground-rule double. Connor Harrell then laid down a great bunt in front of the plate and the throw to first got away. The error allowed Gregor to score from second and set up what would eventually turn into a five-run inning.

Tennessee got an RBI single from junior third baseman Will Maddox in the top of the ninth, but it was too little, too late for the Volunteers after the big inning by the Commodores.

Vanderbilt got the scoring started in the first inning, plating a pair of runs to take a quick 2-0 advantage.

The Vols were in for a fight, though, and they answered right back in the next inning to tie the game. Freshman right fielder Vincent Jackson got the rally started with a beautiful bunt single down the third-base line and promptly stole second. After a walk to junior second baseman Taylor Smart, freshman catcher David Houser punched an 0-1 pitch into right for an RBI single.

Freshman shortstop A.J. Simcox then laid down a sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position and a wild pitch with Maddox at the plate tied the score at 2-2.

The Commodores took the lead back in the bottom of the second, though, thanks to a Tennessee error.

Both starting pitchers then took over, putting up zeroes all the way until the bottom of the eighth, when Vanderbilt broke the game open.

Tyler Beede improved to 7-0 for the Commodores with nine strikeouts and two runs on four hits in 7.1 innings of work. Carson Fulmer recorded his first save for Vanderbilt, fanning four batters in 1.2 innings.

Williams (1-1) suffered the loss for the Big Orange after yielding six runs — but just four earned — on five hits in seven-plus innings. He also struck out a season-high seven batters.

Tennessee will look to close out the series with a win at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday. The Vols will send freshman right-hander Aaron Quillen (1-1, 5.76) to the mound for the series finale, and the Commodores will counter with sophomore southpaw Philip Pfiefer (2-0, 2.88).

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