This Week in UT Sports History – April 5th-11th

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(Photo courtesy of Tennessee Athletics)

This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly series written by RTI columnist Lexie Little

You could say it was an egg-cellent day on the baseball diamond for No. 9 Tennessee. The Vols (24-5, 7-2 SEC) capped off a series win against the University of Alabama on Easter Sunday, rounding the bags for nine runs in an offensive faceoff. After losing by three runs on Friday, Tennessee won Game 2 in 11 innings, 8-4, on Saturday. The Big Orange clinched the second win late in the ninth inning on Sunday, 9-8.

The series in Tuscaloosa marked the third Southeastern Conference series win for the Vols. They previously beat Georgia in an Athens series (2-1) and swept then No. 14 LSU.

As a strong season continues for head coach Tony Vitello’s baseball team, Rocky Top Insider takes a look back at previous baseball wins and other events this week in UT sports history:

April 5, 1951

One day after Tennessee’s Bert Rechichar sent a grand slam home run into orbit to lead the Vols to a 15-11 win against Georgia Tech, the two teams met once again. Emotions ran high as two fist fights marred the battle that resulted in a 12-11 Vol win, one that put the Knoxville team atop the SEC standings.

In the first offensive showdown, the teams played for nearly three hours through 11 errors in Atlanta. Tech wanted to redeem themselves against the SEC frontrunners. Errant – or not so errant – pitches beamed or clipped batters on both sides.

Tensions ran high as the teams remained within one point in the ninth, 12-11, with Tennessee on top.

When Vol pitcher Billy Joe Bowman clipped Tech’s Powell Sheffer, the batter decided to take a detour to the mound on the way to first. One shove turned into “a 10-minute rhubarb” after Bowman “responded in kind with great enthusiasm,” according to the Associated Press.

Allowed to stay in the game, Sheffer provoked Vol Julian Dease after an out at second. Dease beamed the ball at Sheffer’s head, leading to yet another scuffle late in the game. The dust settled and one ground out ended the game.

Tennessee would (begrudgingly) welcome Georgia Tech to Knoxville the next week for the opening of its new stadium at Lower Hudson Field on April 11. The spot would later be the site for Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Vols again downed Tech, 2-1, in Knoxville and finished April and May undefeated on their way to the 1951 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. However, they finished runners-up to Oklahoma in the championship.

The 2021 team takes on Eastern Kentucky tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m. in Knoxville.

April 6, 2008

Close. So. Close.

The Lady Vols narrowly edged past LSU in Tampa, Florida, to propel themselves to the NCAA Championship game. The Final Four matchup resulted in a final score of 47-46, one a little too close (but redemptive) for the two-loss team. One of those losses had come against the same LSU team on Valentine’s Day when the Tigers won 78-62 in Knoxville.

With seven-tenths of a second remaining on the clock, Alexis Hornbuckle fought for a putback. The shot went in, sending Tennessee to its second consecutive title game. The reigning national champions won what was then the lowest-scoring game in Final Four history, shutting out the Lady Tigers yet again. LSU had made the Final Four in five consecutive seasons, never reaching the title game.

The Tigers had taken the lead with seven seconds left to play. Candace Parker, with a bum shoulder, drove the length of the court after LSU’s Erica White made both her free throw shots. Parker passed to Nicky Anosike who looked for the winning shot. She missed the layup.

Luckily, Hornbuckle fought her way into the paint for the rebound. Her effort gave Tennessee the one-point advantage. With less than one second to play, LSU had one last chance to inbound the ball.

Intercepted.

Tennessee snatched the win despite 20 fouls in a scrappy game. Candace Parker, the Associated Press Player of the Year, posted a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds despite a dislocated shoulder suffered in the regional final.

The Lady Vols, of course, went on to avenge a loss to Stanford and win their eighth national title. The April 8 matchup resulted in a 64-48 championship victory for head coach Pat Summitt’s squad. Stanford had beaten the Lady Vols in overtime, 73-69, to end the 2007 part of the season on Dec. 22.

The 2007-08 team earned an overall record of 36-2 (.929), only losing one conference game. The Lady Vols rode a 13-game win streak into the championship game. They finished the season undefeated in neutral site wins. Yet, only one mattered: the last one.

Lexie Little is a journalist from Kingsport, Tennessee, who holds a Bachelor of Communication degree from the University of Tennessee with majors in both Journalism & Electronic Media and French & Francophone Studies. She's a contributor to RTI and writes the weekly column "The Week in UT Sports History." Lexie formerly worked as a feature writer for VIPSEEN Magazine and continues to freelance for various publications as she earns her master's degree from the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.