KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- In Game Two of their conference matchup vs. No. 4-ranked Vanderbilt, Tennessee held the Commodores to four hits en route to a 2-1 victory on Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Led by Benito Santiago, Jordan Rodgers and senior Andy Cox, who fired four hitless innings in relief with five strikeouts, the Volunteers evened the series heading into Sunday's finale.
With the victory, Tennessee moves to 22-17 on the season and 5-12 in conference play, while Vanderbilt is now 30-9 (10-7 SEC).
Tennessee's four hits allowed against the Commodores also tie for their fewest hits allowed in 2016, as well as mark UT's fewest hits allowed in SEC play this year.
In the second inning, Tennessee took advantage of a leadoff walk and hit-by-pitch to put two runners on base. With two outs, senior Derek Lance (1-for-2) stole second, delaying his slide to create an opportunity for Jordan Rodgers (2-for-2) to break from third and score, giving UT an early 1-0 lead.
With one out in the third, Santiago (1-for-3, RBI) then blasted a ball off of the right field wall and used his speed to hustle out an inside-the-park home run. While putting Tennessee ahead, 2-0, the homer also marked the first of Santiago's career and the second inside-the-park home run for the Vols this season (also, Vincent Jackson vs. UNC Asheville on March 31).
Vandy came back to scratch one run across on back-to-back doubles in the fifth but UT's defense worked out of the inning to strand two Commodore baserunners.
Opportunity escaped Tennessee in the sixth, as Rodgers kickstarted a two-out rally with a double past Vanderbilt rightfielder Jeren Kendall. Pinch-hitter Matt Waldren and Lance drew back-to-back walks to load the bases but a called third strike against Jared Pruett (0-for-4) allowed Vanderbilt out of the jam.
Tennessee repeated its threat in the eighth, working with bases loaded on two outs, but a ground ball back to the pitcher proved to be out number three.
Sophomore Zach Warren dealt 5.0 innings in his 10th start of the year, allowing just one run on four hits against his 19 batters faced. With the win, Warren moves to 5-4 on the year.
Senior Andy Cox entered the game in the sixth and retired 12 of 15 batters faced to earn his first save of the season. As a part of 4.0 hitless innings against the Commodores, the lefthander recorded five strikeouts, including back-to-back strikeouts in the ninth inning to secure Tennessee's win.
"I thought the best part of Andy's outing today was that in the ninth inning, he showed the experience of a fourth year senior," Head Coach Dave Serrano said. "He went out and went strike one on the first three guys he faced and ended up getting all three out. He went out and took control. It was a good victory for us."
On Deck for the Vols:
Tennessee takes on No. 4-ranked Vanderbilt in the series finale of their three-game weekend matchup, schedule for 2 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ stream. Freshman Will Neely (0-0, 3.26) gets his first career start against fellow Knoxville native Patrick Raby (5-0, 1.42) for the Commodores.