ATHENS, Ga. - If Tennessee's baseball game against Georgia had been a boxing match, the Vols would have won early on a technical knockout.
Tennessee put the game away with a record-setting third inning as the Vols pummeled Georgia 25-5 on Saturday at Foley Field. Tennessee tied the school record with 28 hits and its 25 runs were the eighth-most in school history.
Tennessee picked up all the runs it would need and more in the third inning as it scored 13 times on a school-record 12 hits. P.J. Polk, Blake Forsythe and Cody Hawn each had home runs in the outburst.
"We all were seeing the ball pretty well and getting good barrels on it," Polk said. "It seemed like nobody could make an out. It was a big inning and we want to keep that momentum going into (today)."
Tennessee (26-21, 10-13 SEC) began Saturday tied with Alabama for the eighth and final spot in the SEC tournament. Alabama and Florida played late Saturday. Georgia (13-32, 3-18) has lost nine straight conference games since beating Ole Miss on April 11. The two teams close their weekend series at 2 p.m. today at Foley Field (TV: CSS).
"It started out kind of innocent with a couple of hits and a walk," Tennessee coach Todd Raleigh said. "I was thinking about bunting with runners on first and second. But he (Josh Liles) got a great hit. Then P.J. gets a hit and Hawn hits a home run and after that, it just kind of exploded."
Polk was 5-for-6 with five runs scored, six RBIs and two home runs. Forsythe was 4-for-5 with two runs scored, five RBIs and two home runs. Matt Ramsey was 2-for-5 with five RBIs. Matt Duffy was 5-for-7 with two runs, two RBIs and three doubles. Tennessee hit six home runs in the game, including two by Polk, two by Forsythe, one by Hawn and one by Ramsey.
Steven Gruver (4-3) allowed seven hits and two runs with five strikeouts and two walks in five innings to pick up the win. Georgia's Jeff Walters (1-6) allowed nine hits and eight runs (all earned) with three strikeouts and one walk in two innings to take the loss.
The game turned after Georgia took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Tennessee's first 10 batters in the third reached base safely, including a stretch of eight straight hits. Tennessee sent 19 batters to the plate in the third. No. 9 hitter Zach Osborne singled, walked and flew out in his three appearances in the inning.
"It was a bounce-back inning after giving up two just before that," Forsythe said. "We were looking to just put up two. So obviously 13's a big inning for us. But it all started with our leadoff guy, Zach (Osborne) getting on base, moving the ball around and then Hawn had the big 3-run home run and that's what started it off."
Tennessee either tied or broke a laundry list of 29 individual season highs and 25 individual career highs in the game. Some of the highlights:
n 12 hits in the third broke the single-inning record of 11 set against Oakland in 2005
n 55 total at-bats, which broke the school record of 54 set against Georgia State in 1999 and Maryville in 1973.
n 52 total bases, which broke the school record of 47 set against Georgia State in 1999 and Mississippi State in 1998.
Polk tied Tony Delmonico's single-game school record of five runs scored set against Tennessee Temple in 2007. The last time Tennessee had 28 hits was against Tennessee Temple in 2007 and South Carolina-Spartanburg in 1992.
Roger Clarkson is a freelance contributor.