Chris Pierce stole home.
Zach Godley threw 103 pitches.
It was impressive individual efforts from Volunteers that fueled Tennessee to a 10-8 comeback win over the Alabama Crimson Tide at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Friday.
But, UT coach Dave Serrano attributed the win to an entire team’s toughness of mind.
“When they were up 6-0, I thought maybe this is supposed to happen for a reason. Maybe we need to find a way to overcome some real adversity. And there was no panic. There was no yelling and screaming. We got on it offensively,” Serrano said.
Alabama (10-16, 2-5 SEC) grabbed a 6-0 advantage after a five-run third inning highlighted by junior Andrew Miller and senior Jon Kelton, who each had two RBIs.
Tennessee (15-11, 2-5) trailed 8-6 when the eighth inning began. Chris Fritts and Chris Pierce both singled to begin the inning, and Alabama redshirt freshman Jay Shaw hit sophomore Ethan Bennett with a pitch to load the bases. When the inning was over, the Vols found themselves ahead 10-8 thanks to two passed balls and a walk.
Nick Blount got his third consecutive save for the Vols.
“It was crazy. At the end, that was awesome. I like throwing out of the bullpen. I did that early on in my career here so it’s not hard to adjust to,” Blount said.
The Vols first began the comeback in the bottom of the third, stringing together four consecutive extra-base hits.
Sophomore catcher Ethan Bennett led the inning off with a solo home run (2). Senior Zach Osborne followed Bennett’s long ball with a double and scored when freshman Will Maddox hit his first home run of the season during the next at-bat. Junior third baseman Zach Luther kept the rally alive with a double, and Davis Morgan scored him on a sacrifice groundball.
Alabama’s freshman catcher Ben Moore finished the game with three hits and two RBIs. He leads the Crimson Tide with a .340 batting average. Senior centerfielder Taylor Dugas also had a big day for the Tide, and he has reached base in all 26 games of the season.
Godley threw pitch No. 100 in the top of the seventh inning, and sophomore Carter Watson replaced him to begin the eighth. Godley finished with 11 hits surrendered, five strikeouts and seven earned runs.
Pierce became the first Tennessee player to steal home since 2010.
“They weren’t holding me on, and I just took off and it worked out. It was pretty close, though,” Pierce said.
Serrano summed up the win for his entire team: “I’ve been a part of wins like this in the past, but this one goes up there pretty high for me.”