HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Tennessee scored eight consecutive runs to climb out of an early 4-0 hole and rally to keep its season going with an 8-4 victory over Southern Miss in Sunday's must-win game two of the Hattiesburg Super Regional at Pete Taylor Park.
After giving up four runs in the bottom of the third inning to fall behind 4-0, the Volunteers responded with a six-spot in the top of the fourth to take their first lead of the weekend and added two more runs in the top of the fifth to take control of the game.
The trio of Griffin Merritt, Blake Burke and Jared Dickey provided the big hit for the Big Orange, as they were able to ward off elimination with Sunday's come-from-behind victory and force a decisive game three on Monday.
Merritt tied a career high with four hits, all singles, and drove in UT's first run of the game with a hit through the right side of the infield to plate Christian Moore, who led off the inning with a double. One batter later, Burke hammered a 2-2 pitch way over the wall in right field to pull the Vols within a run. The home run was the sophomore's 16th of the season and traveled an estimated 479 feet.
After a walk, a single and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs, it was Dickey's turn to deliver as he cleared the bases with a two-RBI single that got under the center fielder's glove and allowed a third run to score on the play.
Burke doubled off the wall in center field to put two runners in scoring position in the fifth before a Christian Scott RBI groundout scored Merritt from third. The throw from USM first baseman Christopher Sargent skipped away from the catcher to the backstop and allowed Burke to race around third and score on the play, as well. It was one of four errors committed by the Golden Eagles in the game.
Tennessee starter Chase Dollander was lights out from there, bouncing back from a rough third inning in which he gave up all four of his runs on four consecutive hits to start the frame. After a three-run homer from Sargent to make it 4-0, Dollander retired 18 of the next 19 batters he faced before a lead off walk in the bottom of the ninth, which ended a streak of 12 straight batters retired.
The junior right hander finished with seven strikeouts and issued just one walk over eight innings en route to earning his seventh win of the year.
Chase Burns recorded the final three outs to slam the door, striking out Nick Monistere on a 100-mph fastball before inducing a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
UP NEXT: The Vols (42-20) and Golden Eagles will square off in a winner-take-all game three on Monday. Game time and television info for Monday's contest have yet to be announced.