COLUMBIA, Mo. – A pair of solo home runs and a masterful performance on the mound by freshman Sean Hunley led Tennessee to a series-tying 2-1 victory over Missouri on Friday at Taylor Stadium.
Nico Mascia and Brandon Chinea both hit solo homers for the Volunteers only two runs of the game while Hunley had his best performance in SEC play this season, outdueling Tigers’ starter Michael Plassmeyer. The Mount Juliet native gave up just one run on three hits to go along with four strikeouts in seven innings of work to improve to 7-3 on the year.
With the score knotted at one in the top of the eighth, Chinea hit his second home run of the year to put UT ahead 2-1. The sophomore third baseman has now hit two game-winning homers in the last three weeks after also hitting one in the seventh inning against Kentucky on May 6 to break a 3-3 tie. Chinea also had a double in the game to lead the Vols with two hits on the night.
Plassmeyer pitched a complete game Mizzou, scattering five hits while striking out 11 and walking just one batter on 124 pitches.
Alex Samples drove in Missouri’s only run of the game with an RBI ground out to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Trey Harris scored from third base on the play after tripling off the wall in right center one batter prior.
The Big Orange responded immediately and tied the game with one big swing in the top of the fifth as Mascia led off the inning with a solo home run to left field. It was the fifth homer this season for the Knoxville native and his first from the right side of the plate.
After a couple more scoreless innings, the Vols took the lead on Chinea’s solo blast into the Mizzou bullpen to make it 2-1. It was the second-career round tripper for the sophomore from Miami with both coming in conference play this season.
Garrett Stallings pitched the final two innings for the Big Orange, allowing just one hit to earn his second save of the season.
With the win, Tennessee snapped a nine-game losing streak against Missouri and kept its SEC Tournament hopes alive. The winner of tomorrow’s game will earn the 12th and final spot in this year’s conference tournament, which begins next Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.
Both of Tennessee’s runs on Friday night came via solo home runs. Nico Mascia and Brandon Chinea both deposited balls into almost the exact same spot in the Missouri bullpen in left field. Mascia’s tied the game at one in the top of the fifth while Chinea’s broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth.
Hunley Comes Up Big
True freshman pitcher Sean Hunley has surprised everyone all year long and continued to stellar season on Friday night with his best performance yet in conference play. Hunley allowed just three hits over seven scoreless innings and struck out four to improve to 7-3 on the year.
A decisive game three is set for tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. ET. The winner will advance to next week’s SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. Fans can stream the game live on SEC Network+ (WatchESPN) or listen to the live radio broadcast on Sports Radio WNML (FM 99.1 / AM 990) as the voice of Tennessee baseball John Wilkerson calls the action.