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Vols lose lead, fall at No. 3 Vandy

The Tennessee baseball team lost another lead Sunday at Vanderbilt, as a seventh-inning grand slam pushed the third-ranked Commodores to a 12-8 win and a series sweep at Hawkins Field.

UT junior first baseman Scott Price (UT photo)

UT (13-13, 3-6 SEC) had multiple leads on Vandy (25-4, 8-1) before the Commodores, as they’d done the previous two days, made more big plays late in the game on their home field.

The Vols open a four-game home stand Tuesday with a 3 p.m. EDT game against Longwood in Lindsey Nelson Stadium, and they’ll host fifth-ranked South Carolina on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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

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LATE LEAD EVAPORATES AS VOLS FALL TO NO. 3 VANDY, 12-8

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee fought off No. 3 Vanderbilt three times before a seventh-inning grand slam by Kyle Smith gave the Commodores the lead and propelled them to a 12-8 victory in the series finale on Easter Sunday at Hawkins Field.

Just first baseman Scott Price led a 16-hit offensive effort by the Vols, going 4-for-4 with three RBIs and a walk. Junior third baseman Will Maddox, freshman right fielder Vincent Jackson and freshman shortstop A.J. Simcox had three hits for the Vols, as well, with Simcox driving in a pair of runs and scoring two more.

UT's record returns to .500 for the year at 13-13, including a 3-6 mark in SEC play while the third-ranked Commodores improve to 25-4 overall and 8-1 in league play.

UT freshman pitcher Andy Cox (UT photo)

Tennessee tagged Vanderbilt starter Philip Pfiefer for two runs early in the contest before a rain delay forced the game to be suspended for 15 minutes. The Vols used four singles and a sac bunt to jump out to the quick lead with Simcox driving in the first two runs of the game with a Baltimore Chop off the turf and over the third baseman's head and into left field for a two-RBI single. Maddox then punched a base hit into right and promptly stole second to put two runners in scoring position before the game was halted.

Although a second out was quickly added to the scoreboard when play resumed, Price laced a line-drive single to left field to score two more runs and bump Tennessee’s advantage to 4-0.

That lead was short-lived for the Vols, however, as Vanderbilt put up a four-spot of its own in the bottom of the third to tie the game.

UT battled its way back in front with two runs in the fourth thanks to a Vandy error and Price's third hit of the day, a two-out RBI single right back up the middle. The Vols handed one of those runs right back in the home half of the inning though with a walk, error and a wild pitch.

The Commodores then used another walk and a hit batter to load the bases with just one, out but freshman left-hander Andy Cox buckled down and struck out the 3- and 4-hole hitters for Vandy to escape without any further damage.

But Tennessee gift-wrapped another run for Vandy in the fifth with an error, a passed ball, a sac bunt and a wild pitch bringing the game back to a deadlock at 6-all.

UT’s offense refused to let the miscues faze its efforts, though, and it put the Vols back out in front for the third time with a sacrifice fly by Pierce Bily in the sixth and a run-scoring single by David Houser in the seventh.

That would be the last time UT led, however, as Smith launched a grand slam to left in the seventh to give Vanderbilt the advantage for the first time all day. The Commodores then tacked on two more insurance runs in the eighth to account for the game's final score.

UT made things interesting in the top of the ninth, using a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate with two outs, but a pop up to short ended the game and the series.

Tennessee will open a four-game homestand at 3 p.m. on Tuesday when it hosts Longwood back at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.

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