Coming into this weekend Tennessee needed to win the series against Mississippi State and get some help to have a chance to make the SEC Tournament. They received that help from Arkansas, who took two games against Georgia and opened the door for Tennessee. The Vols needed a series sweep to lock up their tournament berth, but things looked troubled today as the Vols were behind two and down to their final three outs of the season before putting together a ninth inning rally.
Bret Marks got the start today for his Senior Day, his first start since April 25th against South Carolina due to an injury. He pitched a great game, going seven innings and giving up seven hits and four walks with five strikeouts (giving him 89 on the season).
The Bulldogs got on the board first, with a solo home run to lead off the eighth inning by Wes Rea. Momentum really swung in MSU's favor with that homer, as the Vols had runners on second and third with one out the inning before, but a lineout-tag out double play to third ended the Tennessee chances. Serrano then pulled Marks and brought in Andrew Lee to try to get out of the inning without any more damage. Lee ended allowing another run to score after giving up a single and RBI-double before he escaping the eighth. The ninth inning saw Lee give up another single before getting out of the inning.
The Vols entered the bottom of the ninth down two and Jared Pruett up to bat. Pruett was walked on a full count, which brought the tying run up to bat. Christin Stewart followed Pruett to first after being hit in the left calf. A.J. Simcox attempted to sacrifice the runners over, but ran into some controversy as the MSU first baseman missed his tag on Simcox. Originally ruled out, Simcox was awarded first after a lengthy discussion by the umpire crew after Dave Serrano's complaint.
Andrew Lee followed Simcox's single with one of his own, this time through the right side of the infield that drove home Pruett and tied the game up with Stewart scoring on the fielding error. Lee took second on a pitch in the dirt, which opened first base for Jordan Rodgers who saw four pitches, none anywhere close to the plate, for the free pass. Chris Hall wrapped up the game for the Vols with an RBI single up the middle that gave the Vols the 3-2 victory.
Prior to the Vols' win today Arkansas took the series finale against Georgia 8-1, which opened the door for Tennessee to clinch a spot in the Tournament field with their win.
This three game series sweep of Mississippi State is the first all-time for the Vols, and also marks the first series victory against MSU for UT since 2005. It is only the second SEC series sweep of Dave Serrano's tenure, joining Alabama in 2012.
Tennessee is returning to Hoover for the second season in a row. This is the first time the Vols have made the Tournament in Hoover in back-to-back seasons since 2004-2005.
The Vols are now 24-25 on the year, and 11-18 in SEC play. This trip to Hoover will be Tennessee's 14th, where the Vols hold a 25-22 record and have three tournament titles.
UT will either be the 11 or 12 seed, depending upon the Vanderbilt-Alabama series finale that is currently being played. If Vandy wins, the Vols will move ahead to the 11th seed and play in the opening game of the Tournament on Tuesday at 9:30 A.M. If the Tide prevail, the Vols will play in the final game on Tuesday night as the 12 seed. The Vols will either play Arkansas, Missouri, or Ole Miss.