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WATCH: Vitello Talks Vols SEC Record Tying Win Over Missouri

Tennessee hadn’t trailed in 125 innings when Missouri jumped out to an ealy 2-0 lead in Friday night’s series opener. The Vols’ offense fell flat and pitching was shaky for much of the game before a late comeback gave Tennessee a, 8-3, win.

“It was great,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said. “Every team out there is trying to add to their rolodex of situations they’ve been in and situations they have success at of course too. You’re going to learn some lessons whether you win or lose and I think we learned some tonight. We got better because A. we just got to play. The weather kind of made you think what’s going to happen here, but we got to play ball. It was definitely a game if you weren’t hooked up for all nine innings you’re going to get hit in the mouth. … We were able to learn some lessons and yet still win the game.”

The win pushes Tennessee’s win streak to 21 games and gives them a 10-0 start to SEC play— tying the 1994 Florida team for the best conference start since the SEC went to the 30-game schedule in 1992.

Tennessee’s starting pitching has been mind-numbingly good the season, allowing just eight earned runs in 62.1 SEC innings pitched opening the weekend.

It was just a matter of time before a starter struggled and it came on the cold, rainy night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Chase Burns struggled with his command, walking four batters while unable to make it out of the third inning. Will Mabrey came in to strand the bases loaded in the third inning, but not before Missouri got off to a 2-0 lead.

“He said he felt great to coach (Frank) Anderson in the bullpen,” Vitello said. “Just a little bit of a feel thing. I’ve had the good fortune of being around some big league pitchers. I bet I could give you five real quick in my head right now that didn’t get out of the first inning. There’s a lot of repetitions over the course of the season, and if that ends up being his worst night. Which there’s a decent chance it was as a pitcher, that’s a pretty good worst night. You could tell they were fired up to face him. They certainly, as you saw for nine innings, put together some quality at-bats.”

The Tigers kept the pressure on Tennessee throughout the game. Missouri had a baserunner in every inning and had two baserunners in the first four innings. 

Tennessee slowly chipped away, cutting the Tigers’ lead to one-run with a solo home run from Trey Lipscomb in the fifth inning and a Drew Gilbert groundout in the sixth inning.

The Vols finally got to Missouri’s bullpen to open the sixth inning and used it to break the game open. Tennessee took a one-run lead with a two-run seventh inning before opening things up with a four-run eighth inning.

Evan Russell’s three-run home run proved to be the dagger in Friday night’s series opener.

Tennessee’s bullpen was fantastic, allowing just one run in 6.2 innings pitched.

The Vols and Tigers will be back at it tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET. The SEC Network will broadcast the game. 

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