After scoring six runs on six hits in the second inning to take a 6-1 lead, Tennessee watched Alabama score four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and then take a 7-6 lead with two runs in the bottom of the eighth before tying the game in the ninth and scoring an unearned run in the 10th inning for the win.
Down to its final two outs in the ninth inning, Tennessee put together three straight singles against UA relievers Will Stroup and Josh Copeland to tie the game at 7-7. Stroup gave up back-to-back, one-out singles to Andy Simunic and Tony Delmonico before turning the game over to Copeland.
UT All-American catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was hitless in his first four at-bats, greeted Copeland with an RBI single to center to score Simunic from second base. Copeland avoided further damage when first baseman Yan Gomes rapped into an inning-ending double play. Gomes hit into three double plays in Sunday's win.
Tennessee (13-9, 1-2 SEC) took advantage of a costly two-out error by UA second baseman Jeff Texada to plate the winning run in the 10th. Shawn Griffin drew a lead off walk against Copeland and scored when Ryan Jones reached on Texada's error.
"That's just baseball," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "We had a leadoff walk and then the play there at the end. The last play is the one everyone remembers, but there were many other things, too. He makes that play all the time and he will make it again."
The Vols late-inning comeback spoiled a solid performance out of the bullpen from sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter, who was making his third relief appearance of the week. The Indianapolis, Ind., native held the Vols to one run and four hits in seven innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts in his longest relief effort of his career.
Hunter entered the game in the second inning when UA starter Casey Kebodeaux, making his first career SEC start, gave up five straight hits in his one-inning stint.
Kebodeaux gave up five straight hits in the second inning as UT built a 6-1 lead. Jeff Lockwood and Ryan Jones had RBI singles in the inning and Jared Frazier drove in two runs with a sharp single to center field to chase Kebodeaux from the game. Kebodeaux was charged with five runs and five hits in one-plus inning. He also walked two batters. He was not involved in the decision after the Crimson Tide rallied to take the lead in the late innings.
Alabama had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning without a hit. Freshman third baseman Jake Smith was hit a by a pitch with one out and later scored when Kent Matthes reached on the first two errors by Delmonico at shortstop.
The Crimson Tide got back in the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with four runs off starter Nick Hernandez to pull to within 6-5. Senior shortstop Greg Paiml led off the inning with an infield single to second before Hernandez struggled with his command and walked senior center fielder Emeel Salem and Smith on eight consecutive pitches to load the bases with no outs.
Sophomore designated hitter Alex Avila got the Crimson Tide's first big hit when he laced a two-run double into left-center field to pull Bama to within 6-3 and knock Hernandez out of the game.
Freshman left-hander Jeff Lockwood entered the game with no outs and after striking out Matthes on three pitches, he walked junior first baseman Matt Bentley to load the bases. Sophomore catcher Ryan Rhoden followed with a two-run single up the middle to cut the lead to 6-5. The Tide could get no closer in the inning as Texada grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Hernandez, who threw 22 pitches in the fifth inning without recording an out, allowed five runs and three hits in four-plus innings. He added five strikeouts, four walks, three wild pitches and hit one batter in the no decision.
Alabama (15-8, 2-1 SEC) threatened again in the sixth putting runners at second and third with one out, before UT first baseman Yan Gomes snared a line drive off the bat of Smith to save his team two runs. Avila then grounded out to Gomes to end the inning as UA stranded the tying and go-ahead runs on base.
The Crimson Tide put two more runners on base in the seventh inning when Bentley was hit by a pitch and Rhoden singled, but did not score off Lockwood.
Alabama finally took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Elvin Vargas reached on an error by Delmonico at short and Paiml moved pinch-runner Tyler Odle into scoring position with his second bunt of the game.
Salem then smashed a single up the middle to score Odle with the tying run. Salem took second when Frazier threw home from center field. Smith was then intentionally walked as Avila lined out for the second out of the inning, before Matthes singled to right-center to score Salem with the go-ahead run, putting the Tide in front 7-6.
The Vols rallied in the ninth and 10th, scoring one run in each inning for the comeback win.
*Tennessee scored six runs on six hits in the top of the second inning. The runs and hits were the most allowed in an inning by the Crimson Tide this season and the most since Georgia scored six runs on six hits in the fifth inning on March 19, 2006 in Athens.
*Senior shortstop Greg Paiml (Hoover) tied the Alabama single-game record with two sacrifice bunts on Sunday. He recorded his 23rd career sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning and added his 24th career sac bunt in the seventh inning. Paiml moved into second place ahead of Nate Duncan (1995-97) on UA's all-time list with those two bunts on Sunday. Paiml is four sac bunts shy of the all-time record held by Allen Rice (2002-05), who had 28 sac bunts.
*Alabama falls to 1-3 in extra inning games this season.
*Alabama also fell to 1-4 in one run games this season.