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Tennessee Looking to ‘Punch’ Alabama Following Series Opening Loss

Alabama handed Tennessee its first loss in conference play this year, defeating the Vols, 6-3, Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The series opener was tighter than the score indicated with a handful of plays on each side swinging the difference of the game. Still, Alabama knocked Tennessee off kilter for the first time all season, and the Vols will be the hunter in game two tomorrow night.

While Tennessee players were quick to point out that it is baseball and losses are naturally going to happen, the loss seemingly lit a fire under the top-ranked Vols.

“I’m not worried about it at all,” Jared Dickey said of his team’s response. “I know our team is going to come back and bounce back. We have a bunch of dogs on this team and a little fertilizer never hurt anybody.”

“The team is mentally prepared for tomorrow right now. The team that is mentally prepared for tomorrow right now is going to win the game. We’re doing it right now and we’re going to come out and punch them in the throat.”

Contention between Tennessee and home plate umpire Jeffrey Macias was consistent throughout the game. Macias gave Tennessee outfielder Drew Gilbert a warning for arguing balls and strikes, and Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello and pitching coach Frank Anderson shared words with Macias.

Macias was the home plate umpire in Tennessee’s College World Series loss to Texas in which tempers flared and then-Tennessee assistant coach Ross Kivett was ejected from the game.

Following Gilbert’s pop out to end the game, Alabama players quickly ran out of the away dugout celebrating loudly with closer Dylan Ray before quickly joining the postgame handshake line. 

The celebration settled down quickly but made an impact on Tennessee. 

“I think just be ready before they will be ready,” Tennessee reliever Will Mabrey said. “ I think we are already looking onto the next game. Like V(itello) was saying in the huddle, he is ready to play a game right now. I think we are going to come back tomorrow hot. They don’t really have a chance in my opinion. They were also partying like they thought they won the World Series. We will let them know how that tastes tomorrow.”

The Vols look to even the series up tomorrow at 6 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. SEC Network+ will stream the game.

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