Controversial Call Costs Vols SEC Tournament Win Over Alabama
(utsports.com) HOOVER, Ala. – No. 4 Tennessee dropped its SEC Tournament opener to Alabama, 3-2, in extra innings on Wednesday afternoon at the Hoover Met.
Jake Rucker, Luc Lipcius and Connor Pavolony finished with two hits apiece as the Vols out-hit the Tide, 10-6 for the game. Pavolony and Liam Spence drove in UT’s two runs on the day with RBI singles in the seventh inning with the Vols trailing 2-0.
Senior left hander Will Heflin got the start and gave Tennessee 5.1 solid innings of work, allowing two runs on four hits. Camden Sewell worked 2.2 scoreless to keep the Vols within striking distance before handing the ball off to Sean Hunley, who was the hard-luck loser after allowing one run on just two hits in three innings.
Alabama opened the scoring with a run in the top of the second on an RBI groundout from Jackson Tate. Zane Denton and Owen Diodati led off the inning with a single and a double to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out, but Heflin was able to induce three straight ground outs to end the inning and limit the damage.
The Tide (31-22) tacked on a second run in the top of the sixth despite not recording a hit in the inning. A hit batter and three walks allowed Alabama to take a 2-0 lead.
The Vols were finally able to break through in the bottom of the seventh, scoring a pair of runs to tie the game. After two Alabama errors earlier in the inning, Pavolony drove in UT’s first run with a single to right center before pinch runner Christian Scott scored on an infield single by Spence to tie the game.
It looked as if Tennessee had walked it off in the bottom of the ninth for the win, but Max Ferguson was called for runner’s interference at second base as Alabama was attempting to turn a double play. The call ended the inning and sent the game to extras.
After a scoreless 10th inning, the Crimson Tide got a leadoff double from Sam Praytor, who scored on an RBI single up the middle by Diodati two batters later to give Alabama a 3-2 lead. The Vols were retired in order in the bottom of the 11th to end the game.
Tennessee (42-15) will face off against No. 3 Mississippi State in the first game of the day tomorrow. Winner will remain in the tournament and the loser will be eliminated. First pitch against the Bulldogs is slated for 10:30 a.m. ET.