Baseball’s win streak fizzles out at hands of top-ranked Volunteers

Alabama right-hander Jacob McNairy (34) throws a pitch in the Crimson Tide’s 9-2 loss to the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers on April 16 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama right-hander Jacob McNairy (34) throws a pitch in the Crimson Tide’s 9-2 loss to the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers on April 16 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Will Miller , Contributing Writer

All good things must come to an end. 

No. 24 Alabama could not follow up Friday’s exhilarating win with more success at Lindsey Nelson Stadium Saturday. The Crimson Tide’s eight-game winning streak ended as No. 1 Tennessee claimed a 9-2 victory. The series is now even at 1-1. 

Tensions from game one spilled over into Saturday’s contest. The Volunteers took exception to the Tide’s celebration of their win Friday night. It reached a fever pitch when Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello was thrown out in the first inning after Zane Denton tagged Tennessee starter Chase Dollander with a comebacker. Before he exited the diamond, Vitello chest-bumped the umpire and nearly knocked him over.

Dollander left the game with his pitching arm in a sling. 

In all, three coaches were ejected from the game. Vitello and pitching coach Frank Anderson were given the boot for the Volunteers in the first, and Alabama assistant coach Matt Reida was thrown out during the fourth inning. He had been getting into it with the Tennessee bench, and the game’s umpiring crew had warned the teams to control themselves ad nauseam. 

Jacob McNairy has been a regular starting pitcher for the Crimson Tide since his strong performance in Starkville on March 26. Saturday wasn’t as strong of a performance. He surrendered three runs in 5.0 innings, including a home run by Tennessee outfielder Jordan Beck. . McNairy was the losing pitcher, dropping his season record to 4-1. 

Saturday’s winner was Volunteers reliever Camden Sewell, who was brilliant in 4.1 innings. 

The Crimson Tide offense threatened in the third, but stranded men on the corners. However, Williamson finally crossed home plate in the sixth inning when Denton hit a rocket out to right field for a home run, making the game 3-2. 

The Volunteers never trailed in the game and continued to capitalize on opportunities when pitcher Hunter Furtado came in to relieve McNairy. Beck jumped on the first pitch from Furtado in the sixth inning for his second big fly. Furtado gave up five earned runs and two homers.

Alabama catcher Dominic Tamez had two hits, but also had a rough day behind the plate. Tennessee scored three runs scored on three wild throws into left field. Tamez also took a lot of damage from his own pitchers throughout the game. The Volunteers scored on two wild pitches and Tamez was hit by multiple pitches.

“We just didn’t do as well out of the bullpen and defensively today as you need to to be able to beat the No. 1 team in the country,” head coach Brad Bohannon said. 

Bohannon added that McNairy’s performance gave Alabama a shot. 

Despite the loss, the Crimson Tide still have a chance to win the series on Sunday. First pitch from Lindsey Nelson Stadium is scheduled for noon CT on SEC Network+.