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Vols Outlast FIU in 11 Innings, 4-3


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Senior Zach Osborne scored from third on a high chopper to first by freshman Jake Rowland in the bottom of the 11th inning as Tennessee outlasted FIU, 4-3, on Wednesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

With the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the 11th, Osborne opened the inning with a double to the gap in right-center, extending his hitting streak to seven games. A sac bunt by Will Maddox moved him up to third before a high chopper to first by Rowland brought him the final 90 feet to home.

“Hopefully this continues to build steam for what we are trying to do in this program,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “There was nothing real pretty about that tonight, but the bottom line is we found a way to get it done and ultimately that’s what we are looking for right now. I was really proud of the way some guys stepped up. There were some momentum changes in that game early on, but the pitching picked up for the offense for not getting on the board early and then the offense came back and picked up the pitching for the two runs we gave up early.

“It was great to see some of the young guys contribute like Jake Rowland getting a big hit and then getting that big one at the end to score the final run, Parker Wormsley coming off the bench and Jared Allen hitting that big gapper to score our first run. Those are the kind of things that are exciting within a baseball game and I’m just proud that we came out on top. I’m hoping our guys are feeling good in there right now because we have our hands full this weekend but I am truly excited that Kentucky is undefeated, 22-0.”

Sophomore Dalton Saberhagen (2-0) picked up the win, retiring six of the seven batters he faced in two innings of hitless, shutout relief for the Big Orange, while Christian Malbrough (0-1) suffered the loss for the Panthers after yielding one run on one hit in a third of an inning.

Senior Davis Morgan and junior Zach Luther each had two hits for Tennessee, which out-hit the Panthers 9-6 in the contest. For Morgan, it was his third multi-hit contest in his last four games and upped his average during the month of March to .467 (14-for-30).

“I think (Morgan) is starting to feel settled and more relaxed and that’s good,” Serrano said. “We need him. We need his presence in our line up and we need that experience. We need a guy that can drive a ball in a gap, get some big hits and hit some balls over the fence.”

Freshmen Robbie Kidd and Conner Stevens each twirled two shutout innings of relief for the Vols as well, while junior Nick Blount struck out the side in his only frame and sophomore Carter Watson fanned four batters in his 2.2 innings of work.

With the win, Tennessee improved its overall record to 12-8 and evened its mark in extra-inning contests this season at 2-2. FIU dropped to 8-11 with the loss.

The Panthers wasted little time jumping out to a quick lead, getting a two-strike, two-out, two-run home run to left by Mike Martinez in the top of the first to go ahead 2-0.

The Vols, meanwhile, stranded seven runners over the first five innings before finally breaking through in the sixth. With one out in that frame, Chris Fritts fought off an inside fastball, muscling it into left for a single. Jared Allen followed by ripping an offering to left-center for a run-scoring triple before coming home on a wild pitch just moments later to tie the game at 2-2.

Tennessee loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh but was only able to get one runner home. Morgan put the tally on the board with a sacrifice fly to center, but FIU escaped further damage as they doubled off a runner at first on the play before a foul-out ended the frame.

The Panthers used that momentum to post an immediate answer, getting a two-out single from T.J. Shantz, followed by an RBI double by Aramis Garcia to bring the game back to a deadlock in the top of the eighth. Neither team was able to do much offensively through the remainder of regulation, sending the game to extra frames.

The Vols will return to action this weekend when they continue their 10-game homestand by hosting the nation's only undefeated team, No. 2 Kentucky (22-0, 3-0 SEC) for a three-game series. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, March 23, 4 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.



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