Tennessee takes final series game against No. 1 Florida

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 

Tennessee baseball wins series over No. 7 Florida

Tennessee strolled right into Gainesville this weekend and won the weekend series with the seventh-ranked Gators two games to one. The series win marked the Vols’ first SEC series win of the season, the first series win over Florida since 2008 and the first series win in Gainesville since 2007.

On Friday and Saturday night, the Vols pushed the go-ahead run across in the 10th inning to win drama-filled games. Tennessee’s luck ran out on Sunday afternoon as the Gators held off a late rally from the Vols to avoid being swept.

Following the series win, Tennessee moves to 17-12 on the season and 3-9 in SEC play.

Game 1

On Friday night, freshman Will Heflin came through with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to drive in the go-ahead run, lifting Tennessee to a 7-6 win.

Offense sparked the Vols’ thrilling victory, as they collecting 13 hits over 10 innings. Freshman first baseman Andre Lipcius sparked the offensive output, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Fellow freshman Pete Derkay was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Shortstop Reggie Southall was 2-for-3 with an RBI while third baseman Jordan Rodgers was 2-for-5 with two runs scored.

Senior Hunter Martin received the start on the mound for the Vols, lasting a career-high 7.1 innings. Martin allowed five earned runs and six total on nine hits.

Florida jumped out to an early 1-0 in the bottom of the second before Tennessee battled back with three runs in the top of the fourth. Rodgers led off the inning with a leadoff triple and then scored on an RBI single from Benito Santiago. Derkay and Southall each followed with RBI singles of their own to give Tennessee a 3-1 lead.

The Gators tied things up at 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth following an RBI single from Keenan Bell and an RBI groundout off the bat of Nick Horvath.

Tennessee bounced back in the top of the fifth to take a 4-3 lead on an RBI double from Lipcius. The Vols’ lead was short-lived as Florida tied things up at 4-4 on a Tennessee error in the bottom half of the inning.

In the top of the sixth inning, Tennessee centerfielder Brodie Leftridge tripled to right center, scoring Southall and giving the Vols a 5-4 lead. Leftridge then scored from third on an RBI single from freshman Justin Ammons, extending Tennessee’s lead to 6-4.

Florida tacked on a run in the bottom of the sixth inning on an RBI single from Deacon Liput, cutting Tennessee’s lead to 6-5.

Still trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Gators left fielder Ryan Larson hit a solo home run over the left field fence to tie things up. Neither team would push a run across in the ninth inning, sending the game into extra-innings.

Zach Linginfelter and Jon Lipinski both appeared in relief for the Vols. Linginfelter pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, struck out two and improved to 2-3 on the season. Lipinski collected his second save of the season, shutting down the Gators in the bottom of the tenth to close things out.

Game 2

Saturday night was just as magical for the Vols as they defeated Florida, 3-2, in ten innings for a second consecutive night.

In the top of the tenth inning, Santiago laced an RBI double into right center, scoring Ammons from first to give Tennessee the go-ahead run. Santiago and Ammons spearheaded the offense for the Vols on Saturday, both going 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, respectively.

Lipinski shut down the Gators in the ninth and tenth inning, pitching two scoreless innings to pick up his third win of the season. Andrew Schultz pitched 1.2 innings in relief for the Vols, striking out two.

Locked in a pitching duel with the Gators, freshman Garrett Stallings received the start on the mound for Tennessee. Stallings pitched a career-high 6.1 innings, allowing just two runs on 10 hits.

Tennessee jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning on an RBI single from Ammons, allowing Southall to score.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Florida would capture the lead after an RBI triple from Mark Kolozsvary and an RBI single from Garrett Milchin. At the end of five innings, Florida led 2-1. Kolozsvary finished 3-of-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

Down 2-1 in the sixth, Lipcius came through with an RBI triple down the right field line to score Santiago and tie the game up at 2-2.

The tie held until the tenth inning when the Vols would pull ahead.

Game 3

Tennessee’s magic ran out on Sunday afternoon as the Vols fell to the Gators, 5-4, in the series finale.

Florida jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, scoring a run in the second and third inning before scoring three runs in the fourth. The Gators would hold a 5-0 lead until the top of the sixth when the Vols would strike for three.

Rodgers, Santiago and Lipcius started the rally by collecting three consecutive hits. With the bases loaded, Derkay was hit by a pitch, scoring Rodgers from third. Heflin then drove in a run on an RBI groundout before Lipcius hit an RBI single up the middle. At the end of six innings, Florida led 5-3.

Tennessee cut the Florida lead to 5-4 in the top of the eighth inning following an RBI single through the right side from Dom Thornton. Following the Thornton RBI single, the Gators shut the door, not allowing the Vols to strike again.

Linginfelter received the start on the mound for the Vols and went 2.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits while recording the loss.

Will Neely, Eric Freeman and Zach Warren all made appearances in relief for the Vols.

Santiago led the way for the Vols on offense once again, going 2-for-5 at the plate. Derkay finished 2-of-3 with an RBI.

Week Ahead

Tennessee travels to Johnson City on Tuesday night for a midweek contest with East Tennessee State at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Following their game with the Bucs, the Vols will welcome No. 10 Auburn to town for a three-game series. The series will start on Thursday night with game one beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Game two is set for 6 p.m. ET on Friday night and the series finale on Saturday will begin at 2 p.m. ET.

Edited by Quinn Pilkey

Featured image by Austin Perryman, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics