KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 2/3 Tennessee used a late power surge to battle back from an early deficit and claim the weekend series with a 7-2 victory over Gonzaga in front of a capacity crowd of 5,037 on Saturday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Volunteers (10-2) dug themselves into a 2-0 hole in the second inning, but battled back to tie the game on a Kyle Booker solo home run in the sixth before taking the lead for good with a five-run seventh inning.
Booker was one of the major catalysts at the plate for the Big Orange, finishing with a pair of hits and a run scored to go along with his first long ball of the year.
Blake Burke was once again a force offensively, finishing 3-for-5 with a double and a three-run blast that put UT ahead 5-2 in the seventh inning. In four games this week, the sophomore slugger is batting .611 with 11 hits, two doubles, three homers and 14 RBIs while slugging 1.222.
Griffin Merritt also homered, a shot off the batter’s eye in dead center for his second of the year, and finished with three RBIs on the night.
Chase Burns was solid in his third start of the year, striking out eight while allowing two runs on five hits in 6.1 innings, but did not factor into the decision. Lefty reliever Kirby Connell was credited with his first win of the year after recording two big outs in the seventh inning, one via strikeout.
Seth Halvorsen made sure there would be no comeback for the Zags, tossing two shutout innings to finish the game.
Sam Canton drove in both runs for the Bulldogs (1-9) with a two-run double to right center field in the second inning. Payton Graham was stuck with the loss after giving up five runs on three hits and three walks in two innings of relief.
UP NEXT: Tennessee will look to finish the sweep in tomorrow’s series finale. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. and the game will be streamed live on SEC Network+ and the ESPN app.