Tennessee scores late to claim series at Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. -- In the regular-season finale of Southeastern Conference play, Tennessee came out on top of a back-and-forth affair with Georgia, plating three runs in the ninth for a 5-2 series-clinching win at Foley Field.
With the win, Tennessee finishes regular-season play with a 29-27 overall record and a 9-21 mark in the SEC, while Georgia moves to 27-29 (11-19 SEC) over 56 games.
The Volunteers await the results of Saturday's remaining SEC games to determine their postseason odds for the SEC Baseball Tournament.
At the plate against Georgia, Nick Senzel (3-for-4, 3 RBI), Derek Lance (2-for-4) and Brodie Leftridge (5-for-5, RBI) paced the Vols' offense on Saturday and combined for eight of 11 total hits on the day.
Back-to-back doubles off the bats of Chris Hall (1-for-3) and Senzel gave the Vols a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Tennessee furthered its lead to 2-0 in the third, when Lance came across to score on a bases-loaded wild pitch by Georgia starter Connor Jones. The Vols prepared to strike again in the frame, moving runners to second and third, but a fly ball to center ended the threat.
The Bulldogs came back to put runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom of the third, but senior starter Andy Cox fired three straight strikeouts to get out of the jam.
In the fifth, a walk and a base hit by Georgia then put runners on second and third with one out. Over the Bulldogs' next two at-bats, an RBI-groundout and a hit through the right side tied the game at 2-2.
The teams traded chances and three up, three down innings until the top of the ninth, when senior Tyler Schultz (1-for-4) led off with a double into the right-center gap. With two outs, Leftridge then drove a shot back up the middle, scoring pinch-runner Matt Waldren from second to put UT ahead, 3-2.
Later in the inning, Leftridge and Hall executed a double steal, moving to second and third with two outs, before Senzel launched a two-run double off the right field wall, giving Tennessee a 5-2 lead they would not relinquish for the win.
Lefty Andy Cox threw 4.1 innings in his Saturday start, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out six batters.
Junior Hunter Martin entered the game in the fifth and went 2.0 scoreless innings before Tennessee went to lefty Aaron Soto for the second day in a row.
Soto, who tossed 5.0 one-hit innings in relief for Friday's win, shut down Georgia over 2.2 innings. He allowed just one hit against his nine batters faced for his second win of the series against the Bulldogs.
Vol Baseball Quick Hits
- Tennessee completed its first series win over the Bulldogs since 2010, when UT captured a three-game sweep over UGA in Athens.
- As part of his 3-for-4 effort on Saturday, Nick Senzel knocked his league-leading 24th and 25th doubles while driving in three runs. He now owns 59 RBI to finish 2016 regular-season play.
- Sophomore Brodie Leftridge recorded his fourth, three-hit game of the season with a ### performance against Georgia.
- Saturday's attendance at Foley Field: 2,105
- On Deck for the Vols: Tennessee awaits the results of the remainder of Saturday's SEC games to determine their postseason odds for the 2016 SEC Baseball Tournament.