From emotional seniors to coaches arguing with umpires to late-game rallies to a walk-off finish, Tennessee baseball's home finale had a bit of everything.
Chris Hall's high-hopping single up the middle provided the finishing touch as the first-year Volunteer brought home A.J. Simcox with the game-winning score as Tennessee came back from two runs down in the ninth to win 3-2 over Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The victory gave Tennessee (24-25, 11-18 Southeastern Conference) the 12th spot in the league standings, which punches its ticket for the SEC tournament in Hoover, Alabama, which gets underway Tuesday morning. The season is over for the Bulldogs (24-30, 8-22).
Both State starter Austin Sexton and Tennessee senior Bret Marks cruised into the seventh inning with not one runner touching home. A hanging fastball to Bulldogs first baseman Wes Rea resulted in a line-drive home run over the left-center field fence and Marks' departure. The right-hander went seven gutsy innings after having to rest a sore shoulder for two weeks, totaling five strikeouts, seven hits allowed and four walks.
|Bret Marks delivers a pitch in his last home game with the Vols.|
Trailing 2-0 and its season at stake, walk-on third baseman worked a base on balls to get the Tennessee half of the ninth started. Christin Stewart reached after getting hit in the foot. Simcox was called on to bunt the potential game-tying Stewart to second base. Simcox's bunt reached Rea's glove but Rea's tag never reached Simcox. After a lengthy discussion amongst the umpires, Simcox was ruled to have not gone out of the baseline and safe at first.
Lee tagged a ball to right field for a solid single that brought Pruett and Stewart home. Jordan Rodgers worked a walk to load the bags and set up the theatrics as Hall's knock quickly became an orange-clad celebration in short right field.
Tennessee earned a second consecutive SEC tourney bid for the first time since the 2004 and 2005 teams.
Find out much more about the exciting Vols win by clicking on the InsideTennessee media below:
Dave Serrano nearly emotional
Marks gusty on the mound
Hall all smiles after victory
Lee drives home tying run
Simcox brings home game-winner