KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- In the series opener against Mississippi State, Tennessee put together a complete team effort and used clutch hitting to power past the Bulldogs, 5-2, on Thursday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
With the win, the Volunteers improve to a 22-25 overall record and a 9-18 mark in SEC play, while Mississippi State (24-28) slips to 8-20 in conference competition.
Offensively, the Vols were led by Nick Senzel (2-for-4, 3 RBI), Christin Stewart (2-for-4), Jordan Rodgers (2-for-4, RBI) and Andrew Lee (1-for-4, HR). Collectively, UT recorded nine hits against the Bulldogs including solo home runs from Senzel and Lee.
Following a 1-for-4, RBI performance in Thursday night's contest, Lee extended his current hit streak to 18 games, which marks the longest by a Volunteer this season and a career-long streak for the Tennessee native. Entering weekend competition, Lee's current streak was also tied for the second-longest streak in the SEC this year.
Tennessee traded runs with the Bulldogs in the first two frames, with the help of a towering solo home run by designated hitter Andrew Lee. After Mississippi State pushed one across in the first, Lee answered by sending a ball deep over the scoreboard in right field, marking his ninth homer of the year.
The Vols struck again in the third, as Nick Senzel crushed a solo home run to left-center field and gave Tennessee the go ahead run, 2-1. The home run marked Senzel's fourth of the season and the third in his last three games (since May 9 at Arkansas).
In the fourth, Tennessee put up a crooked number on the Bulldogs, initiated by a bunt single from Simcox to begin the frame. Right fielder Jordan Rodgers hit an RBI-single to score Simcox before center fielder Chris Hall reached on a fielding error by MSU. With two outs, Senzel came up big for the Vols again and drove a two-RBI single to right field, giving UT a 5-1 advantage.
Starter Andy Cox dealt 7.0 innings for the Vols, holding the Bulldogs to just one run on three hits with six strikeouts in the outing to earn the win, his third of the year.
Righty Steven Kane went to work on the hill in the eighth and threw 0.2 inning before sophomore Kyle Serrano was called upon to hold the Bulldogs and retired his one batter faced. Andrew Lee took the mound in the ninth and closed things out for the Vols, picking up his ninth save of the season.
Game Two of Tennessee's home series against Mississippi State begins on Friday, May 15 at 6 p.m. ET. Junior lefty Drake Owenby (2-6) is slated to toe the rubber against Bulldogs righthander Preston Brown (5-7) at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.