The Vols (18-6, 2-4 SEC) faced off on Sunday against the Ole Miss Rebels (18-7, 3-3 SEC) in a series deciding game that ended poorly for the Volunteer faithful.
The Rebels struck early in the top of the first when Matt Tracy's ground out scored lead-off runner Tanner Mathis and was immediately followed by a line drive to center field by Alex Yarbrough giving the Rebels a quick 2-0 lead.
A solo home run, courtesy of Miles Hamblin, put the Vols down three after the second and brought back memories of last Sunday's loss to Kentucky after the Wildcats put up a four spot in the top of the first.
"Last week on Sunday we were off to a poor start too, you know with four in the first and it's just hard to come back all the time," said head coach Todd Raleigh.
Two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings supplemented by one in the ninth helped the Rebels claim the shutout.
Starting pitcher for the Rebels, Austin Wright (2-2, 3.06), shut down the Vols offense going eight innings and only allowing four hits. Bobby Wahl came in to close in the ninth and completed the shutout. The Rebels have now shutout six of its last eleven opponents including a pair against Lipscomb and their SEC opener against Alabama.
Levi Dean (4-1, 2.42) began the day on the mound for the Vols but was replaced after 2 1/3 innings of work.
"I came out and I felt like I had good stuff before the game. I was confident in my pitches, actually all my pitches, for the first time this year coming out of the bullpen before the game," said Dean. "It was a good job by their hitters on their part."
Seven pitchers touched the mound at some point in the game further confusing Vol fans on who will fill the role as the Sunday starter.
"It's not something we really harp on as a pitching staff," said Dean in regards to the pitching vacancy. "Everyone comes out and works hard. And you just wait for that opportunity and I got that opportunity today and I didn't really fill that role very well."
"But I'm going to go back to work this week and I know everybody else is and we're going to try and turn it around next weekend," said Dean in regards to the pitching vacancy.
Junior Matt Ramsey extended his hitting streak to five games with his single in the second inning. Other Vols picking up hits were sophomore Chris Fritts, senior Khayyan Norfork, junior Zach Osborne, and freshmen Ethan Bennett.
The Vols had several chances to chip away at the Rebel lead, the best coming in the seventh inning when a Josh Liles walk followed by an Ole Miss error put runners on the corners. Wright battled and got the next two batters out neutralizing the Volunteer threat.
The Vols will host UNC Ashville on Wednesday where Jon Reed (1.0, 4.50) is slated to start. Raleigh and the Vols hope to pick up some steam as they will have to travel to No. 1 ranked Florida Gators next weekend.