#1 Vols Erase Three-Run Deficit to Top #23 Gamecocks & Secure Ninth Straight Series Win
Courtesy / UT Athletics

#1 Vols Erase Three-Run Deficit to Top #23 Gamecocks & Secure Ninth Straight Series Win

Game Recap: Baseball | May 17, 2024

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Top-ranked Tennessee dug itself out of a three-run hole with eight combined runs in the sixth and seventh innings, clinching its ninth straight series win with an 8-3 victory over South Carolina on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.  

Christian Moore sixth-inning solo home run ignited the Volunteers’ offense that had struggled against Gamecocks’ starting pitcher Garrett Gainey up until that point.

Following Moore’s 27th homer of the year, Billy Amick and Dylan Dreiling roped back-to-back singles to set the stage for a Hunter Ensley three-run blast to give the Big Orange a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

UT added some insurance with four more runs in the seventh inning, courtesy of a Blake Burke grand slam to make it 8-3. The junior first baseman is the second Vol to hit a pair of grand slams this season, joining Cal Stark.

Drew Beam turned in a vintage outing on the mound for the Vols, posting four strikeouts while allowing just one earned run over six innings of work to earn his eighth victory this year.

All three of South Carolina’s runs came in the second inning when UT committed a pair of errors. The Gamecocks (33-20, 13-16 SEC) also had three hits in the inning, including two RBI singles from Talmadge LeCroy and Gavin Cases.

Cole Messina led USC at the plate with three singles and a run scored while Gainey was stuck with the loss after allowing four runs on seven hits, four of which came in the sixth inning.

Moore once again led Tennessee at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double, the aforementioned home run and two runs scored. Ensley was the only other UT player to finish with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 on the night.

Relievers Andrew Behnke and Aaron Combs combined for four strikeouts in three scoreless frames out of the bullpen to close out the game. Tennessee’s pitching staff held the Gamecocks hitless over the final four innings.

STATS OF THE GAME: Burke’s grand slam in the seventh inning was UT’s 11th of the season, adding to its program record. It also moved the Vols into a tie for third in NCAA history for grand slams in a single season while setting a new SEC record, surpassing LSU’s 1998 squad that hit 10.

The NCAA single-season record for grand slams is 14, held by Arizona State’s 2003 team. Tennessee’s 11 slams are the most by any team in the BBCOR-bat era (2011-pres.).

After losing their first conference series at Alabama, the Volunteers have reeled off nine consecutive series wins in league play and 11 of their last 12 dating back to last season. It’s nine SEC series wins are tied for the most in a season in program history, matching the 2022 team.

UP NEXT: The Vols will look to earn their SEC series sweep this year when they take on South Carolina in Saturday’s series finale, which is slated for a 1 p.m. start.

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