Just one day after being clobbered by top-ranked Florida 22-6, Tennessee looked like a different team in its Sunday doubleheader against the Gators.
The Vols split the games with Florida, coming up just short in Game 1 but avoiding a sweep and getting a win over the best team in the country in Game 2. The games were shortened to seven innings after Friday’s rain-out.
Tennessee (19-14, 5-7) had a fantastic opportunity to pick up a win over the top-ranked Gators in Game 1, but ultimately came up short, losing 6-4 in 11 innings.
The Vols built a 3-0 lead, but Florida came back to take a 4-3 lead on a two-run double from Will Dalton in the seventh inning. Justin Ammons sent the game to extra innings for the Vols, however, ripping an RBI single to right field in the bottom half of the inning.
The teams traded scoreless frames until the 11th, when the Gators struck for two more runs on a sacrifice fly from J.J. Schwarz and a Tennessee throwing error, giving Florida the win.
In Game 2, Tennessee got up on the Gators early and held its lead for the duration of the game, picking up a 6-3 win.
Pete Derkay ripped a bases-clearing, three-run double to right center field in the third inning to put the Vols up 3-1. Derkay came around to score on a passed ball before Jay Charleston singled to bring home two more and put Tennessee up 6-1.
Florida scored a couple more runs, but Tennessee never trailed after the third inning and salvaged a win over the Gators. The win was Tennessee’s first over a No. 1 team since May 7, 2016, also at home against Florida.
The weekend series shows the potential — but also the inconsistency — of this Tennessee baseball team. After losing by 16 runs on Saturday, the Vols had a real chance to get the series win. With the youngest team in a loaded SEC, Tony Vitello seems to have things trending in the right direction.
Tennessee will play two home midweek games against UT-Martin on Tuesday and Wednesday before going on the road next weekend for a three-game series against LSU.