Vols clinch series with 8-3 win at Dudy Noble

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Eli Iorg had three hits and Sean Watson pitched seven effective innings Saturday afternoon as No. 19 Tennessee (19-2, 2-0 SEC) defeated No. 21 Mississippi State 8-3 before 3,021 fans at Dudy Noble Field. The Vols claimed their 15th straight win and clinched the series with the Bulldogs (12-4, 0-2 SEC). The teams conclude the series Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT.

"We've had a very good weekend," said Iorg, the UT left fielder. "We won some games early in the year and that built the confidence level for this team."

Iorg had a game-saving day for the Vols, leaping high at the left field fence in the fourth inning to rob State's Brad Corley of a three-run home run. Minutes later in his next at-bat Iorg added a solo home run to right.

It was a tough-luck day for the Bulldogs, who stranded nine baserunners and lost another two-run home run on an over-the-fence catch by center fielder Josh Alley off the bat of Craig Tatum. A third Bulldog big swing, again by Corley, hit the top of the center field wall and bounced back into the field of play for a triple.

The Bulldogs lost a runner due to a base running mistake in the first inning and made two more errors after making four in Friday's night 9-4 loss to Tennessee.

"I thought we competed a lot better in this game (than Friday night)," MSU coach Ron Polk said. "We didn't strike out as much. (Starting pitcher) Jeff (Lacher) competed well on the mound. We lost four runs because of their outfield. They made some great catches and we lost a couple of home run balls."

The Vols helped their own cause with spectacular defensive plays.

"Sometimes, one key play or one key hit can win a game," said UT's Rod Delmonico. "We scored some runs in the middle of the game there and were very fortunate to come up with a pair of great plays there late in the game."

Tennessee built a 5-1 lead with two runs in the third inning and three more runs in the fifth inning. In the Tennessee fifth inning, Iorg hit a solo home run - his first of the season and the only long ball in the contest. Also in that inning, the Vols scored on a groundout and an infield error. Ironically, Tennessee also scored twice on a pair of groundball outs in the third inning.

The early offense would be more than enough for the freshman right-handed Watson. Watson (3-1) allowed seven hits and three runs (one earned) in his seven innings of work. Watson struck out one and worked around four walks. Patrick Hicklen pitched two innings of one-hit shutout relief for his first save.

For State, Lacher (2-2) left the game during UT's three-run fifth inning. Brooks Dunn and Jon Crosby threw in relief. Tennessee out-hit State 11-8 in the contest.

For the Vols, Iorg had three hits, while Michael Rivera had two hits. Alley and Brett Chappell each drove in a pair of runs. Brad Jones and Tyler Scarbrough each had two hits for MSU. Catcher Craig Tatum singled to run his hitting streak to nine games.

The Bulldogs and Volunteers complete their three-game weekend series Sunday at 1:30 p.m. , with junior righty Alan Johnson (0-0, 4.15) matched with Vol senior lefty Ben Riley (2-0, 2.61).


Tennessee (19-2) 002 030 102 - 8 11 2
MSU (12-4) 001 100 100 - 3 8 2

WP-Watson (3-1). LP-Lacher (2-2). Sv-Hicklen (1). 2B-Norrid (9), Headley (1), Cleveland (4), Rivera (6). 3B-Corley (1), Scarbrough (1). HR-Iorg (1). T-2:50. A-3,021 (6,401 paid).

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