Tennessee baseball drops in walk-off loss in opener at Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Seth Stephenson and Jorel Ortega ripped consecutive hard-hit singles to open the game for Tennessee baseball at Kentucky on Thursday.

The Vols did not score, setting the tone for an abysmal offensive showing.

“It just seemed painful. I do not know of any other way to say it, “Vols coach Tony Vitello said.” It was just a strange flow to the start of a game or lack there of. “There was a lingering cloud there of maybe we did not do as good of a job as we could have.”

Tennessee left a season-high 15 runners on base, including nine in the first three innings. The No. 1 Vols (41-5, 19-3 SEC) lost 3-2 in 13 innings to Kentucky (25-20, 18-14) at Kentucky Proud Park.

“It hurts a little bit more when you are leaving three, four guys on base,” Vitello said.

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It marked the second time UT lost a series opener in SEC play. The Vols lost to Alabama on April 15 but won the final two games to win the series. UT has won all seven SEC series this season.

Kentucky’s John Thrasher tripled to right field with two outs in the 13th and Alonzo Rubalcaba singled down the line to give UT its first extra-innings loss this season.

Tennessee’s offensive struggles

Tennessee could not capitalize on 12 walks, including seven in the first three innings. Then the Vols had one hit in final 42 plate appearances.

Luc Lipcius singled in the third inning. Ortega had UT’s only hit in the final 10 innings, a single to lead off the 11th. Tennessee did not have a hit in the seven innings between the singles.

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