University of Tennessee starting pitcher Drew Beam didn’t exactly have an easy go of things Sunday against Georgia Tech.
Fortunately for Beam, a Blackman alum, teammate Will Mabrey had his back.
Mabrey scattered five hits and struck out five batters over 3.2 scoreless innings, even pitching out of a jam in the seventh with two runners on and just one out, as the Vols rallied from a 4-0 deficit to take a 9-6 win and advance to the Super Regional for the second straight year.
“The hero of the game for them was Will Mabrey,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. “He settled the game for them when they needed it.”
Mabrey was the second Vol in as many nights to throw at least 3.2 innings of relief or more. Kirby Connell allowed two runs and three hits over four innings in relief of Chase Dollander on Saturday in UT’s 12-7 win over Campbell.
“I just felt good,” Mabrey added. “Just came in throwing strikes; it’s what I’ve been trying to do this whole season. There wasn’t anything I was thinking besides jump pumping strikes and getting outs the best I can.”
Mabrey held off the Yellow Jackets long enough to allow the Vols’ offense to find its groove. UT made a dent with a two-run fifth inning and a Trey Lipscomb RBI single in the seventh.
Trailing 4-3 in the ninth inning, the Vols blew it open with a six-run frame thanks in part to an RBI double by Jordan Beck plus RBI singles by Evan Russell and Christian Moore.
It was the second straight game Tennessee overcame a four-run deficit after doing so the previous day against Campbell. The Vols fell behind 4-0 after three innings then reeled off three runs in the fourth and four in the fifth before closing it out with a four-run ninth inning.
“There’s a little something to this group where, if something goes wrong, they sort of rally around each other,” UT coach Tony Vitello said. “I’m thankful to be a part of it.”
Added outfielder Jordan Beck: “I just don’t think that we fear very many people. Even when we’re down, it’s kind of motivation to have better at bats and kind of push the game farther.”
Tennessee (56-7) will now face Statesboro Regional champion Notre Dame (38-14) in the Super Regional, which begins on June 10. It’s the first time in school history the Vols will host a Super Regional in consecutive seasons.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_