Following a loss to Tennessee Tech on Tuesday — Tennessee’s first loss since early March — the Volunteers were looking for a bounceback game against Alabama. On Friday night at home, they didn’t find it.
Tennessee had the bats working early against the No. 24 Tide, scoring two runs in the first inning on Friday night. A Drew Gilbert triple plated Jordan Beck, while a Trey Lipscomb single scored Gilbert.
Very quickly, the Volunteers had a 2-0 lead.
However, Alabama’s Owen Diodati hit a solo shot in the top of the second. Jim Jarvis did the same in the third inning.
A tie game was broken by Diodati, who hit another solo shot to give Alabama a 3-2 lead. An error and a sac fly gave the Crimson Tide a 5-2 lead in the top of the fourth inning.
Tennessee starter Chase Burns was removed after just three innings of work, giving way to reliever Will Mabrey. Mabrey was able to settle things down on the mound for the Volunteers, but the offense needed to pick up the slack.
It was Jorel Ortega doing just that in the bottom of the sixth. Ortega went deep off of Alabama starter Garrett McMillan, which ended up forcing a change on the mound for the Tide. Hunter Hoopes entered for Alabama and gave up a double to Jared Dickey, but was able to force a pop-fly to end the inning.
Mabrey continued to cruise in relief, but Tennessee needed more from the offense to win this one. The Vols couldn’t do anything after Drew Gilbert reached on a walk, so we went to the eight with Alabama holding a 5-3 lead.
Blade Tidwell took over on the mound for Tennessee, and quickly struck out the side. However, he ran into trouble in the ninth inning, giving up a run on a triple that extended the Alabama lead to 6-3.
The Tennessee bats were silent in the bottom of the ninth, and the Vols ended up dropping this one to fall to 31-3 on the season. It was the first SEC loss of year for Tennessee, and the second consecutive loss for the top-ranked team in the nation.
Game No. 2 is set for tomorrow at 6 p.m. ET on SEC Network+.