In a chilly three game series, the Tennessee baseball team (19-14, 5-7 SEC) welcomed the top-ranked Florida Gators to Knoxville for a weekend matchup. The series marked the Volunteers’ first home series since their sweep of Alabama in March.
Game one of the series faced cancellation due to inclement weather. The first matchup took place Saturday. Florida took an early lead after scoring five runs in the second inning.
Tennessee never cut the Gators’ lead enough to mount a comeback. Florida went on to score seven runs in both the fifth and sixth innings and ultimately beat the Volunteers by a score of 22-6. Freshman Garrett Crochet got the start on the mound for Tennessee in game one but had little success. Crochet tossed for 4.1 innings while allowing 10 runs on eight hits.
“I just touched on kind of a mentality thing,” Vols head coach Tony Vitello said about his speech to his team after the game. “I think there is such a thing as too much respect for your opponent and I think that played into some things tonight.”
Sunday featured a double header in which Tennessee looked to bounce back. The orange-and-white took an early lead, scoring three runs in the first four innings, but Florida scored two runs in the fifth inning. The Gators took the lead in the top the of seventh inning.
The teams readied themselves to end the game in seven innings, so the Volunteers looked solid heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Tennessee tied the game at 4-4 going into the eighth inning, but the Vols gave up two runs off a sac-fly and an error. The Vols got one man on base but failed to match Florida, as the Gators retired the next three batters to win 6-4.
Game three of the weekend boded well for Tennessee, as the Vols finally knocked off the Gators 6-4. Junior Will Neely pitched all seven innings for Tennessee and gave up four runs and notched five strikeouts in the win over No. 1 ranked Florida.
“It felt good. I knew we needed the team to be focused on this one after the loss on Saturday and then the first loss today,” Neely said about the much-needed win for the Volunteers. “If we didn’t have that focused, it wouldn’t have turned out as well as it did.”
The last time Tennessee tallied a win over a top-ranked team also featured the Gators two years ago. Vols sophomore outfielder Justin Ammons tied his career-high in hits with four and also drove in the game-tying run on Sunday.
Tennessee’s next matchup will be against the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks for a two-game midweek series. First pitch of game one is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday night.
Written by Cole McCormick
Edited by Seth Raborn
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics