By: Eric Graves
Late-inning clutch hitting saved the Tigers Saturday from a furious Tennessee comeback, jump-started by a four-run seventh inning for the Vols.
Through six, the Tigers looked like they had this one in the bag. They rode hot bats early on by Ryan Howard’s first inning home run, and a second inning two-run shot by Brett Bond.
The Tigers carried this 3-0 lead and held the Vols scoreless through six innings, thanks in part to a strong first six innings by pitcher Tanner Houck. The Vols appeared to be on the verge of submission when the seventh inning started, but a Nick Senzel homer got the Volunteers back in the game. Senzel’s homer started what would be a four-run inning for Tennessee, as Benito Santiago and Jared Pruett followed with RBI singles and Leno Ramirez hit a pop fly that helped another to score. Now, it was the Tigers on their heels, going from a 3-0 lead to being down one run in a single inning, Tennessee definitely had the momentum.
The seventh inning was crucial for the Tigers as they knotted the score up at four after a Kirby McGuire single to center that allowed Bond to score. However, in the eighth Senzel went yard once again for a solo shot that put the Vols back up 5-4.
The Tigers got their opportunity in the 8th to seal the deal. With two on, Zach Lavy squeaked a hit through second and third to tie it up for the Tigers. Sophomore Trey Harris then stepped to the plate and knocked the go-ahead run in on an RBI single to right field.
The Tigers ended the inning up 6-5 and sent Austin Tribby out to close the game. Matt Waldren struck out, Pruett grounded out, and Derek Lance flied out to end the game and give Tribby the win, making him 3-3 for the year. The Tigers are now 23-21 overall and the Vols are 24-20, with just under a month left in the regular season.
Photo credit: The Maneater