A small mistake cost the Tennessee baseball team a chance at a big win Friday night.
Tennessee freshman pitcher Andy Cox
Eleventh-ranked South Carolina used a ninth-inning error to score an unearned run that was the difference in a 5-4 win over the Vols in Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
UT (13-15, 3-7 SEC) rallied to tie the game at 4-all in the eighth inning — also thanks to an unearned run — but the Gamecocks (24-7, 6-4) came back in the ninth to take Game One in this weekend’s three-game series.
Vols ace Zack Godley took the loss, but he didn’t have his usual Friday night role. He pitched just one inning out of the bullpen, so he’ll still be fine to start Sunday’s Game Three.
Junior right-hander Nick Williams will start for the Vols in Saturday’s Game Two, which is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. EDT and be televised by SportSouth.
Here is a full recap of Friday’s game, courtesy of the UT sports information department.
NO. 11 SOUTH CAROLINA HOLDS OFF VOLS, 5-4
No. 11 South Carolina made Tennessee pay for a ninth-inning error, using an unearned run in the final stanza to edge past the Volunteers, 5-4, in a thrilling Friday night game at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
With the score tied at 4-4 after the Vols rallied for two in the bottom of the eighth, the first batter of the ninth for the Gamecocks reached as a squibber to third was misplayed. He came around to score two batters later when Max Schrock laced a 1-0 pitch off the wall in straight-away center for an RBI double.
UT freshman outfielder Vincent Jackson
Tennessee got the leadoff runner on base in the bottom of the ninth, but a failed bunt attempt and back-to-back strikeouts ended the game.
South Carolina got the scoring started with a sacrifice fly in the top of the second, but the Vols answered right back in the bottom of the third with an RBI single by Price and a perfectly-executed safety squeeze by junior center fielder Pierce Bily giving UT a 2-1 lead.
The Gamecocks brought the score back to a deadlock with a run-scoring double in the bottom of the second, and that’s where the game remained until the eighth.
Freshman left-handed pitcher Andy Cox was solid out of the Tennessee bullpen, firing 3 2/3 shutout innings while allowing just two baserunners to keep the Vols in the ball game.
The Gamecocks finally broke the tie with two runs in the eighth, scoring on a wild pitch and hit batter — both with the bases loaded — to go ahead, 4-2.
Tennessee got a huge hit from freshman left fielder Vincent Jackson in the home half of the stanza, though to tie the frame. After a walk by Pierce Bily, Jackson crushed a 2-0 offering high off the wall in right. Bily scored easily on the play and Jackson was able to cruise all the way around the bases as the relay throw from the shortstop sailed over the catcher's head and bounced into the dugout.
The second game of the series is set for 12:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday. The game will be televised on SportSouth with Dave Neal and Larry Conley on the call.