The Tennessee baseball team has been in a lot of tough games this season. This week showcased that.
But it also showed that all the fighting is starting to pay off.
The Vols beat Alabama 4-2 on Sunday in the conclusion of a postponed game from Saturday, then took a 5-3 win in the seven-inning finale to sweep the Crimson Tide at Lindsey Nelson stadium and stretch their win streak to five games.
"It wasn't an easy week by any stretch of the imagination," UT coach Dave Serrano said.
"Every game we've played this week has been a dogfight. When you start to get through those dogfights and come out on top, you start to find ways to win."
Zach Osborne's two-RBI single in the bottom of the sixth broke a 3-3 tie and led to the sweep over Alabama, marking the first time Tennessee (18-10, 5-4 SEC) has won five straight over the Tide (9-19, 1-8). It also was the first conference sweep for UT since 2010 against Georgia, and the first at home since 2008 against LSU.
"That was huge for us and our program," Osborne said. "That's something we can build off of and keep the ball rolling."
With the Vols up 3-1, Serrano was ejected in the fourth inning while at the mound having a meeting with pitcher Nick Williams and the infield after two full-count walks, involving calls with which Serrano disagreed.
Immediately after, Hunter Gregory singled in two runs to tie it 3-3.
"As a team we built off (the ejection) and it kind of fired us up and put us in a good spot to come back and gets some motivation," Osborne said.
Osborne also said Serrano wasn't "out of line" with anything he said to the team or the umpire.
Junior Nick Blount recorded all five saves as the closer this week, including midweek games against Mississippi Valley State, bringing his season total to six. Previously, Blount was a middle reliever before adopting the closing role.
"I didn't have a problem with (moving to closer) from the get-go," Blount said. "It wasn't really difficult to get used to because I threw out of the bullpen as a freshman and sophomore. I enjoy it. I think it's fun. I don't really feel any pressure."
Carter Watson (3-0) earned his third win of the week in 2 1-3 innings of no-hit relief after Williams went 3 2-3 innings.
Drew Steckenrider put the Vols on the board in the first inning with a two-run home run off the scoreboard on the first pitch he saw.
On the mound, Steckenrider picked up the win in the postponed game after coming in for relief Saturday and remaining in the game when it resumed Sunday, totaling 3 2-3 shutout innings while giving up just three hits.
From a hail storm to starting off the first game of the series down 6-0, Tennessee battled.
"I couldn't be prouder of how we've continued to overcome adversity, weather, and find a way to get it done," Serrano said.
Clay Seal is a freelance contributor.