KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Senior Derek Lance delivered a two-out, walk-off base hit to lift Tennessee past No. 8 Ole Miss, 3-2, in Friday night's SEC opener at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
With the score knotted at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Max Bartlett and Lance combined to provide the heroics the Vols (12-5, 1-0 SEC) needed to grab a series-opening win. After the first two batters of the inning were retired, extra innings seemed an inevitability before Bartlett, a junior shortstop, got himself into scoring position with a double off the left field wall. That clutch hit set the stage for Lance, who lined a 1-1 pitch into center field to plate Bartlett and seal the victory.
It was Lance's only hit on the night -- and just his sixth RBI of the season -- but in a game in which runs came a premium, it proved decisive in handing the Rebels (17-2, 0-1 SEC) just their second loss of the season.
Tennessee got another impressive outing from lefty Zach Warren, who allowed just one run while striking out a career-best eight batters in 6.1 innings of work. The sophomore took a no-decision on Friday night, but kept Ole Miss off balance to offset a similarly strong pitching performance from his Rebel counterpart in Brady Bramlett.
Bramlett, who had entered the game with 4-0 record and a 2.14 ERA, recorded nine strikeouts on Friday night and limited the Vols to just one hit over his first five innings on the hill.
Tennessee broke through in the bottom of the sixth, though, and captured the lead with a two-out rally. With two out and nobody on, Vincent Jackson and Jordan Rodgers notched back-to-back base hits to put the Vols in business. On the ensuing at-bat, Leno Ramirez's sharp line drive into right field got away from Rebels outfielder Cameron Dishon. As the ball bounded toward the warning track, both Jackson and Rodgers came around to score, giving Tennessee a 2-1 lead.
The advantage would hold only until the eight inning as Ole Miss center fielder J.B. Woodman tied the ballgame with a lead-off home run in the top of the eighth. But that was all Ole Miss would get off of reliever Jon Lipinski, who picked up his first win as a Vol after going 2.2 solid innings. Lipinski allowed just three hits while striking out three and inducing a pivotal double-play in the top of the ninth.