Tennessee battled back from an early deficit to take down visiting Florida International 4-3 in 11 innings on Wednesday night.
Zach Osborne led off the Volunteer half of the 11th with a double. Three batters later, the senior came home with the game-winning score on a fielder's choice off the bat of freshman Jake Rowland.
It was the second straight victory for Tennessee (12-8) after losing five in a row. The Panthers were saddled with their fifth consecutive loss.
Dalton Saberhagen (2-0), who was struck in the shoulder by a foul ball while standing in the dugout early in the game, tossed a pair of hitless innings to get the win. The left-hander hasn't allowed an earned run in nine frames this season.
FIU (8-11) struck in the top of the first when Mike Martinez made Vol starter T.J. Thornton pay for a leadoff walk issued to Pablo Bermudez by launching a two-run home run over the left-center field fence.
That shot added to the career RBI (167) school record for Martinez, who could easily moonlight as a David Wright lookalike.
The Tennessee bullpen then came on to trim the whiskers of the Panthers bats with Robbie Kidd and Conner Stevens both logging a pair of scoreless innings.
That gave the Big Orange bats time to battle back. Chris Fritts singled and came home on Jared Allen's one-out triple in the bottom of the sixth. Allen cleated the dish himself on a wild pitch to knot the contest at 2-all.
The Vols temporarily held a 3-2 advantage when Will Maddox worked a leadoff walk and later scored with two down.
In the eighth, UT sophomore Carter Watson was cruising in relief with two goose eggs until a two-out single through the 5-6 hole by T.J. Shantz. Drew Steckenrider came on from left field to take over mound duties for UT and was greeted by Aramis Garcia's game-tying single to right. But, after an intentional walk to Martinez, Steckenrider struck out Adam Kirsch to end the threat.
Nick Blount struck out all three batters he faced to keep FIU from plating a run in the ninth. In all, the UT bullpen gave up just one score in 10 innings.
Tennessee plays host to No. 16 Kentucky for a three-game set this weekend. The Wildcats enter 22-0 and looking to maintain their first-place standing in the Southeastern Conference.
It was Tennessee baseball coach Dave Serrano's 301st career victory. Listen to his thoughts by clicking on the video below:
To see what Osborne had to say following the victory, click on the senior below:
To see a photo gallery from the field level at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, scroll down (click to enlarge):