KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee's freshmen came up big for the Volunteers in their 6-3 series-clinching win over South Carolina on Sunday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Similar to Saturday's 3-2 loss, the Big Orange entered the eighth inning trailing by a run after giving up a lead in the top of the seventh. And just like yesterday's game, UT went on to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth, however, the Vols were able to break through with four runs on Sunday, all driven in by freshmen, to regain the lead.
Pinch hitter Connor Pavolony tied the game at three with an RBI ground out before Jake Rucker came up with the biggest hit of the afternoon, a two-run single to put Tennessee ahead 5-3. Max Ferguson gave UT a three-run cushion with a sacrifice fly one batter later.
Rucker, making his first start of the weekend, was one of three Vols that finished the game with two hits. Ricky Martinez also had two hits and scored a pair of runs while leadoff man Justin Ammons had a solid bounce-back performance with two base knocks of his own.
Will Neely gave the Big Orange another quality start, allowing one run on four hits in 5.1 innings of work. Garrett Crochet pitched the 3.2 innings and earned his second victory of the season. The sophomore allowed two runs but also struck out four batters.
Tennessee jumped out to an early lead thanks to a two-out RBI single by Evan Russell in the bottom of the first. The Vols added to their lead with another run in the fourth when Martinez scored on a wild pitch by Gamecocks' starter TJ Shook.
An RBI single by Brady Allen cut the Tennessee lead in half in the fifth before a two-run double by Chris Cullen gave the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead in the seventh.
A walk, hit batter and single by Martinez loaded the bases for UT in the eighth, setting the stage for the Vols' freshman trio to put the Orange and White back on top.
FRESHMEN COME UP CLUTCH: Freshmen Connor Pavolony, Jake Rucker and Max Ferguson came through when the team needed it the most on Sunday afternoon, driving in all four of Tennessee's runs with the Vols trailing 3-2 in the eighth inning. The win marked to the first for UT this season in which they entered the eighth inning trailing.
VOLS GET BEST OF GAMECOCKS: The Big Orange got the best of South Carolina for the first time in quite some time this weekend, taking two of three games in the series. Entering the series, Tennessee had lost nine straight to USC and had not won a series against the Gamecocks since 2015.
UP NEXT: The Vols close out a four-game homestand on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. against in-state foe ETSU. Fans can watch Tuesday's contest online via SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app.