The No. 4 Tennessee baseball team lost game two of its series against No. 21 South Carolina 3-2 as the bats went quiet at Founder Park. The Vols drop to 41-14 overall and 19-10 in the SEC, while the Gamecocks climb to 33-19 this year and 16-13 in the conference.
The Vols didn’t find much success at the plate. Tennessee’s first three batters: Liam Spence, Max Ferguson and Jake Rucker combined to go 1-for-12 with four strikeouts. Pete Derkay finished the day with two hits, including a home run. Connor Pavolony drove in the second Tennessee run.
“[Brett Kerry] is different,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “I don’t mean to speak for their coaching staff, but I’ve seen his interviews, you watch his presence on the mound, you look at his statistics, he’s a different kid. He has the skill set, but also the mindset. On top of that, if you were just going to look at results, we chased up a few times. He located his pitches really well. I never really saw the breaking ball as good as it was tonight and our hitters were commenting on that in the dugout.”
Brady Allen provided all the offense for South Carolina at the top of the lineup. The Gamecocks’ center fielder hit a three-run home run to give his team the lead. Josiah Sightler was the only South Carolina player with a multi-hit performance with two hits.
Tennessee scored first in Saturday night’s low-scoring affair. The Vols scored in the top of the third off of a Pavolony single. Lipcius extended the Vols’ lead to two with a solo shot to deep right field in the top of the fourth inning.
The Gamecocks answered in the bottom of the fifth after Allen jacked a three-run home run down the leftfield line to break the tie and give South Carolina the eventual 3-2 victory.
Will Heflin earned the start for game two and he lasted just 4.2 innings after giving up two runs on four hits while punching out six batters. Camden Sewell entered in relief and dominated as he gave up just one run and struck out five over 3.1 innings of work.
“They didn’t exactly get to Hef,” Vitello said. “He was throwing the ball great. He wiggled out of a couple of jams and obviously, we were going through the lineup for the third time and we like the matchup, but we put Cam in against Allen, and he kind of babied the slider in there. But then he rolled through the rest of the night for the most part. You go with your gut and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t and it didn’t on that occasion, but the kid has been good for us and kept us in the game.”
Kerry started for South Carolina and twirled a masterful 7.0 inning performance by allowing just two runs and seven hits as opposed to eight strikeouts. Bosnic closed out the game over the last two innings to earn the save.
This series rubber match will be held tomorrow at noon in Founders Park at Columbia, South Carolina.