Rally comes up short, Vols fall to VU 3-2
HOOVER, Ala. — Nick Senzel's double and subsequent advancement to third base after a balk by Vanderbilt closer Carson Fulmer put Tennessee in a terrific position to tie its rival in the ninth inning of the Southeastern Conference tournament opener Tuesday. Fate stepped in and quickly erased the Volunteers rally with the result being a 3-2 loss in what may wind up being the 2014 season finale. A ball of the bat of Taylor Smart bounced sharply enough to Commodores third baseman Xavier Turner to where Turner could turn and swipe tag Senzel. That pushed the potential game-tying run back 180 feet with Smart at first. Then, Smart was picked off the bag by Fulmer and Vincent Jackson became the No. 11-seeded Vols' final out. It was Tennessee's first postseason appearance since 2007. A throwing error allowed the second of Vanderbilt's runs to score in the bottom of the first. The Orange & White answered immediately with a two-spot in the second behind an RBI single from Vincent Jackson that plated Senzel and a run-scoring single from Derek Lance. Vanderbilt (41-16) got the eventual winning run in the second half of the second. Rhett Wiseman tripled to right-center and Ro Coleman brought home Wiseman with a pinch-hit single. Confined to a 60-pitch count as he headed to the hill on just four days' rest, Hunter Martin got nine outs with two coming via the punchout with no walks and six hits allowed. Two of the three runs scored on the Murfreesboro native were earned. Kyle Serrano followed up his mastery of the Commodore bats from the regular season with four shutout frames. The right-hander fanned four with three walks and two hits. Peter Lenstrohm put out a fire in the bottom of the eighth to keep it a one-run affair. Senzel provided two more hits and his 14th stolen base of the season to go with his two-bagger. Tennessee totaled seven hits off Fulmer and Vandy starter Walker Buehler. Turner collected three of the ‘Dores' eight hits. Tennessee's record drops to 31-23. It has 10 victories over top 25 opponents but will need an at-large bid to reach the NCAA Tournament, which would be the Knoxville's schools first trip to the field since the 2005 season in which it reached the College World Series. The Vols find out their fate on Monday.