Vols lose game, series to Mississippi State

April 27, 2008

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State handed the Tennessee baseball team a 7-3 loss while clinching the weekend series between the clubs Sunday at Dudy Noble Field. With three weekends of regular-season Southeastern Conference play remaining, the Volunteers own a 25-19 (11-10 SEC) record.

Play was halted after two hours and 55 minutes when a heavy downpour began with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

The Bulldogs (18-26, 6-15 SEC) broke a 3-3 tie with a four-run seventh inning and never looked back. MSU reliever John Lalor notched the win to improve to 3-3 on the year. Tennessee starting pitcher Ty’Relle Harris (2-1) took the loss after allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits with one walk and six strikeouts through six innings.

A heads-up call by UT first-base coach Bradley LeCroy helped the Vols take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning Sunday. Tennessee third baseman Danny Lima beat out an infield single that was fielded by MSU shortstop Ryan Powers. Once Lima safely reached first, LeCroy noticed that neither Powers nor Bulldogs second baseman Jet Butler was covering second base, so LeCroy sent Lima scampering safely into scoring position.

Vols shortstop Cody Grisham then dug in and delivered an RBI single to left field, scoring Lima and giving UT the early lead.

Mississippi State center fielder Mark Goforth tied the game with an RBI base hit in the bottom of the third. And a failed pickoff attempt by the Vols in the fourth enabled Bulldogs third baseman Russ Sneed to score from third to give MSU its first lead of the day.

Tennessee head coach Todd Raleigh got the Vols fired up in the top of the sixth when he was ejected by home-plate umpire Todd Henderson after UT center fielder Kentrail Davis was called out by Henderson on a bunt attempt. Immediately following Raleigh’s exit, Vols catcher Yan Gomes and designated hitter Jeff Lockwood recorded back-to-back hits. Gomes plated Josh Liles with a double before scoring on Lockwood’s go-ahead RBI basehit to left-center. Lockwood led UT with three hits Sunday.

Tennessee’s lead was short-lived, however, as MSU first baseman Tyler Moore belted a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 3-3.

The Big Orange totaled four hits in the sixth after managing just two through the first five innings.

State put runners on first and second with no outs in the seventh, and Bulldogs right fielder Grant Hogue put his club back in command with an RBI double that left two men in scoring position. Harris then gave way to junior reliever Joey Rosas, who retired the first batter he faced before intentionally walking Sneed to load the bases with one out and set up a potential inning-ending double play.

Rosas was then lifted in favor of fellow junior Danny Wiltz, who walked in a run before surrendering a two-run single to Moore which gave Mississippi State a 7-3 lead.

Sunday’s first pitch was delayed 37 minutes due to steady showers that moved through the Starkville area Saturday night and into Sunday morning and early afternoon. The Vols were out-hit Sunday for the first time in their last eight games.

Tennessee’s next action comes Tuesday at 7 p.m. when it hosts Western Carolina at Robert M. Lindsay Field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. First-year UT head coach Todd Raleigh played at WCU from 1988-91 and served as head coach at his alma mater in Cullowhee, N.C., from 2000-07.