KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 23 Tennessee couldn’t hold on to a pair of leads on Sunday afternoon against No. 24 Missouri, dropping the series finale to the Tigers, 10-8.
The Vols raced out to an early 7-0 lead only to see Missouri score seven runs in top of the third to tie the game. The Big Orange regained the lead with a run in the seventh but promptly gave up three runs in the top of the eighth that ended up deciding the game.
UT starter Zach Linginfelter was dominant over the first two innings, retiring all six batters he faced while striking out three batters. Things unraveled in the third, however, as the junior right hander was pulled after giving up six runs on three hits and three walks in the inning.
Paul Gomez was the hero for the Tigers, blasting a pair of two-run homers, including what turned out to be the game-winner in the top of the eighth inning.
The Vols jumped out to a quick four-run lead with a two-out rally in the bottom of the first. A single by Lipcius and a double by Alerick Soularie put two runners in scoring position for Evan Russell, who reached on throwing error by Gomez that allowed both runners to score. Rucker followed with an RBI double and came in to score on a single by Pete Derkay to put the Big Orange ahead 4-0 after one inning of play.
Lipcius put UT ahead by seven with a three-run homer in the bottom of the second inning, his team-leading 12th four-bagger of the year.
Missouri responded with a huge inning in the third, scoring seven runs to tie the game. After a pair of walks by Linginfelter to start the inning, Connor Brumfield tripled down the right-field line to clear the bases. He scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly to make it a 7-3 game.
Later in the inning, Chad McDaniel continued his big weekend with a two-run single that ricocheted off the glove of a leaping Rucker in shallow right field to drive in two more runs. After a pitching change, Gomez tied the game with the first of his two, two-run homers in the game.
Tennessee retook the lead without recording a hit in the bottom of the seventh. Missouri reliever Konnor Ash retired the first two batters before hitting Derkay and then issuing back-to-back walks to Connor Pavolony and Ricky Martinez to load the bases. After a pitching change, Sikkema walked Ammons on a 3-2 pitch one batter later to allow the go-ahead run to score.
The Tigers had an answer once again in the top of the eighth, however, as Gomez hit his second two-run homer of the afternoon to give them a 9-8 lead. They added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly by Brumfield later in the inning to make it 10-8.
Sikemma retired the last six batters he faced to end the game and earn his sixth win of the year.
UP NEXT: The Vols wrap up a four-game homestand on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. versus Austin Peay. The game will be streamed online via SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app. Fans can also listen live as John Wilkerson and Vince Ferrara call the action for the Vol Radio Network (AM 990).