After a back-and-forth battle – with just six total runs scored through 11 innings – senior Liam Spence blasted a go-ahead grand slam in the 12th to put No.16 Tennessee up 7-3 against Georgia Southern.
Even seen an Australian hit a game-winning grand slam?
— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) February 21, 2021
The home run ended up being the game-winner for the Volunteers. It was Spence’s fourth hit of the young season.
The 3-game opening series was one filled with tension and emotion on both sides. Eagles fans could be seen and heard interacting with the Vols bench consistently throughout the contests. Benches cleared during the second game after a home run by Tennessee sophomore Drew Gilbert. No punches were thrown and there weren’t any ejections. However, any warnings that were distributed did not stop the intensity displayed by both squads.
How Tennessee Got Here
On Friday night, the Vols had to squash a Georgia Southern rally. Sophomore Jordan Beck’s 2-hit, 3-RBI performance proved to be the difference as Tennessee won 5-3.
On Saturday, it was the Vols who made a charge late in the game. Tennessee scored two runs in each of the last two innings. Thanks to two home runs from Gilbert, the Vols took the edge in the series with yet another 5-3 victory. Gilbert, as Beck did the night before, drove in three runs in a game with a 2-score margin.
Watch @gillygoobear ruffle some feathers.
🎥 HIGHLIGHTS ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/NRS4oCV1g5
— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) February 20, 2021
Sunday’s win, though, was the most impressive. Despite a stellar performance by Tennessee’s first two pitchers, Georgia Southern continued to put pressure on the Vols. Junior Elijah Pleasants started the game, while senior Jackson Leath was the first arm called out of the Volunteer bullpen. The two combined for 10.2 IP, 2 ER, and 7 SO.
Pleasants gave up a game-tying, two-run homer to Eagles junior, Noah Ledford, in the fourth inning. Leath exited the game without allowing a run, but the senior’s 5.2 innings of service weren’t easy. With a runner on third base, and just one out in the ninth, the Vols’ defense turned a sharp bouncer into a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning.
From there it was mostly a bullpen battle until Spence arrived at the plate in the top of the 12th inning. His blast gave senior Sean Hunley enough insurance to close things out. The righty threw 1.1 innings and struck out four batters. Out of 22 pitches, 19 of Hunley’s offerings were strikes.
What’s Next For The Vols
Next up for Tennessee is a mid-week matchup against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Tuesday home opener is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start. It will be the Golden Lions’ first game of 2021.