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Through two weather delays over two days, Southern Miss beats Tennessee 5-3 to take game one of the Super Regional

The offense goes ghost again at a bad time

Tennessee v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It took two weather delays and two days to finish, but the Vols managed just four hits and stranded eight runners as Southern Miss beat Tennessee 5-3 in game one of the Super Regional. Since the weather split game one into two days, the Vols face the tall task of playing again today at 3 PM to avoid being eliminated from the postseason.

Southern Miss jumped on Vols’ starter Andrew Lindsey for four runs in four innings before the game was called, while the Golden Eagles’ starter didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning.

Lindsey gave up a lead-off single in the first, but ended up picking him off after a couple tries to get him as he was leaning toward second. But then a walk, a single and a fielder’s choice set the table for Tate Parker’s two-run triple to center field during which Hunter Ensley dove to try and make the catch — one we’ve seen him make before — but Saturday Ensley missed it and Southern Miss took an early 2-0 lead.

In the bottom half of the frame, Billy Oldham gave the Vols a taste of what they’d see the rest of the evening: a lead-off strikeout of Maui Ahuna, a three-pitch ground-out for Hunter Ensley and a three-pitch K for Jared Dickey.

The second inning was Lindsey’s only clean inning of the game, but it took 16 pitches to get three outs. There was a pretty clear difference in the two teams’ approaches at the plate — as Vol fans watched a familiar team that wasn’t working counts and seemed to be struggling to find the ball out of the pitcher’s hand. I don’t mean to take any credit away from Billy Oldham, but Tennessee just looked lost at the plate most of the game.

Lindsey gave up a run in the third — a home run to two-hole hitter Dustin Dickerson — then again in the fourth in the form of another solo shot to a home run to seven-hole hitter Nick Monistere.

The Vols had something going in the bottom of the fourth when Ensley singled with one out, and Griffin Merriitt got hit by a pitch with two outs. Christian Moore came to the plate and was in a 2-2 count before the first weather delay stopped the game for nearly two hours. Unfortunately, the stoppage wasn’t enough to burn Golden Eagles Starter Oldham, who struck Moore out once play resumed.

Camden Sewell took over for Lindsey in the top of the fifth, and worked around a one-out double that basically ended up as a triple once Dickerson stole third. Sewell struck out the next two batters to get out of the half inning without giving up a run.

In the B5, Blake Burke grounded out on two pitches before Zane Denton picked up Tennessee’s second hit of the game on a single to center. Weather struck again, and this time, it stuck around for good. The two teams went home, and play resumed at noon Sunday.

Once play restarted, Christian Scott hit into a fielder’s choice that took out the Vols’ lead runner at second, but then Cal Stark took a HBP with two outs. Maui Ahuna worked a full-count walk and Ensley got hit by a pitch, which drove in Scott for Tennessee’s first run of the game.

Jared Dickey came up with the only timely hit of the game for the Vols, when he singled to center to score two.

Griffin Merritt struck out looking on a full-count pitch that stranded two runners, but the Vols were at least back in the game.

Seth Halvorsen was Vitello’s choice to finish the game, and he allowed a run in the sixth but was otherwise brilliant. He sat the Golden Eagles down in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning, while striking out 3. His final line: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 Ks and 27 of his 40 pitches for strikes.

The offense just didn’t give him any backup. The offense stranded four runners in innings 6-9, including when Cal Stark got hit by a pitch with two outs in the final frame. Hunter Ensley grounded out to third and Southern Miss got the force-out at second to end the game.

Justin Storm got the win for the Golden Eagles, throwing 4.1 IP and giving up two hits and two walks but no runs. Lindsey got tagged with the loss for the Vols, going 4 IP, allowing four runs and one walk while striking out five in 78 pitches.

The two teams square for all the marbles at 3 PM, and the Golden Eagles will throw their best pitcher Tanner Hall. Hall’s 12-3 on the year with a 2.08 ERA and 119 strikeouts to just 32 walks. Batters have hit just .202 against Hall in his 17 appearances.