KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Volunteers came from behind to take a 4-3 walk-off victory in Saturday's grudge match against South Carolina at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
With the win, Tennessee improves to 17-21 on the year and 6-14 in SEC play, while South Carolina (26-18) slips to 9-11 in conference competition.
At the plate, second baseman Nick Senzel (1-for-5, 2 RBI), shortstop A.J. Simcox (2-for-4, R, RBI) and catcher Benito Santiago (1-for-2, 2 R, 2 SB) led the Volunteers. Tennessee outhit the Gamecocks with eight knocks in the contest.
South Carolina struck early, pushing one run across in the first and taking a 2-0 lead following a solo homer by Gamecocks shortstop Jordan Gore in the second inning.
Tennessee came back to even the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the second, as right fielder Johnny Youngblood and catcher Benito Santiago were each hit by a pitch in back-to-back at-bats. First baseman Parker Wormsley then advanced runners to second and third on a sacrifice bunt, setting the table for second baseman Nick Senzel and shortstop A.J. Simcox to drive in two runs in the frame.
The Vols held South Carolina until the fifth, when first baseman Kyle Martin hit a solo home run to right-center field and make it a 3-2 ballgame. Again, Tennessee fought back and scored in the sixth to bring the score to 3-3, as Santiago reached on an infield single and swiped two bags to be brought home by Senzel.
Tennessee staged a late rally in the bottom ninth, as Simcox led off with a line drive to right field. Left fielder Christin Stewart then executed a perfect hit and run with a liner to center, moving Simcox to third. After an intentional walk issued to Lee, right fielder Jordan Rodgers knocked the game-winning RBI single into right field.
In his 11th start of the season, senior Bret Marks dealt 7.0 innings, allowing three runs on five hits in the outing. After a shaky start, the righthander settled in and went on to toss a strong, season-high 124 pitches, including eight strikeouts against USC.
After beginning the game as UT's designated hitter, righty Andrew Lee worked 2.0 one-hit innings of relief, holding South Carolina scoreless en route to earning his second win of the season.
On Sunday, Tennessee hosts South Carolina in the series finale at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. ET. Game action will be available for viewing on SEC Network, as Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Keith joins VFL Rusty Ensor on the broadcast.