KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 23 Tennessee dropped game two of its weekend series versus No. 24 Missouri, 6-2, on Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Vols and Tigers had to endure a two hour and five-minute weather delay in the bottom of the third inning due to lightning in the area.
UT struggled offensively for the majority of the game as Missouri’s pitching staff had a nice bounce-back performance after giving up 11 runs in Friday’s series opener. Starter TJ Sikkema had five strikeouts over the first 2.2 innings before the rain delay.
The Tigers decided not to bring Sikemma back out after the delay, instead opting for Ian Bedell, who earned the win after allowing one run on one hit in three innings of work. Cameron Dulle pitched the final 3.1 innings to record his fourth save of the season.
Freshman Jake Rucker was the only Tennessee player with more than one hit on the day, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI double.
Vols’ starter Garrett Crochet was solid through five innings but ran into trouble in the sixth, giving up a walk, a double and a home run before being relieved by Will Neely. Crochet finished the day with three strikeouts and allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits over 5.1 innings.
The Tigers scratched across an unearned run in the top of the fourth with the help of some sloppy defense by the Vols. After reaching base on an infield single, Kameron Misner stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by first baseman Pete Derkay. Misner, who finished with three hits and three runs, scored a few pitches later on another infield single off the bat of Chad McDaniel to give Mizzou a 1-0 lead.
Missouri added to its lead in the top of the sixth when McDaniel hit a three-run homer into UT’s bullpen to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead and chase Crochet from the game. McDaniel went 3-for-3 with two runs and four RBI for the game.
The Vols put together a two-out rally to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth and scored a run on a bases-loaded walk by pinch hitter Nico Mascia to cut the deficit to three. Ricky Martinez grounded out to second base to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.
After UT allowed two more runs in the top of the eighth, Rucker doubled down the left-field line with two outs to score Alerick Soularie and cut the deficit to four, but the Vols were retired in order in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
RUCKER RAKING IN SEC PLAY: UT second baseman Jake Rucker has been one of the team’s best hitters in conference play this season. The freshman is batting .319 in SEC play, which ranks second on the team behind Alerick Soularie (.370). The Greenbrier, Tenn., native has had two hits in four of the last five games and is riding a five-game hit streak overall.
UP NEXT: Tomorrow’s rubber game between Tennessee and Missouri is slated to begin at 2 p.m. 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 (FM 99.1/AM 990).