The fourth ranked Tennessee Volunteers (25-5, 7-2) hosted the 11th ranked Florida Gators (20-9, 5-4) over the weekend. Tennessee was looking to keep the good times rolling against their familiar rival.
The Vols sent Chad Dallas to the mound to begin the game; the Gators countered with Tommy Mace. Dallas would ultimately earn his fifth win of the season, pushing his record to 5-0, after he turned in seven innings, allowing seven hits, four runs (three earned), and striking out 11 batters.
In the bottom of the third, Tennessee opened the scoring when Liam Spence singled, scoring Logan Steenstra and giving the Vols a 1-0 advantage.
Thanks to a pair of homers in the top of the fourth inning, Florida would take over the lead as the game headed into the bottom of the inning, 2-1.
An Evan Russell double in the bottom half quickly reclaiming the lead when Luc Lipcius and Drew Gilbert scored.
Russell drives in two, ball off the fielder's glove— // nichabod crane // (@_NicoSuave_) April 9, 2021
3-2 Good Guys pic.twitter.com/FaoFgAdYhA
In the bottom of the fifth, Gilbert would single and drive in Jake Rucker, giving the Volunteers the 4-2 lead.
Rucker scores on Gilbert liner up the middle.— // nichabod crane // (@_NicoSuave_) April 9, 2021
These guys just score runs. Kinda silly.
no idea why the green bar is there lol pic.twitter.com/Dy0xNsunos
In the top of the seventh, however, Florida would bite back. A solo home run followed by a run-scoring single would tie the game at 4-4.
Rucker’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh scored the go-ahead run for Tennessee.
Rucker sac fly to score Spence, 5-4 good guys pic.twitter.com/kjDfzxQ13S— // nichabod crane // (@_NicoSuave_) April 10, 2021
Russell would follow it up with his sixth home run of the season giving the Vols an added bit of insurance, leading Tennessee to its 26th win of the season.
Game two was played Saturday night in Knoxville with Will Heflin being called on for starting duties. He would pitch 3.2 innings, allowing five hits and three runs. Mark McLaughlin would come on in relief and ultimately earn the win (2-0) after contributing 2.1 scoreless innings. Kirby Connell picked up his first save of the season with three innings of work in which he gave up one run and picked up five strikeouts.
Florida would jump out to an advantage when the club picked up three runs in the fourth inning, staking themselves to a 3-0 lead. Thompson hit a solo home run to center and Carrion plated a pair with a single.
Jake Rucker would draw a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the sixth inning, getting one run back. Drew Gilbert would ground into a double play, but a run came into score on the play. The inning continued with a Jordan Beck single, scoring Max Ferguson. Luc Lipcius doubled before Connor Pavolony singled — both plays would score a run. By the time the inning was over, Tennessee had scored five runs and given themselves a 5-3 lead.
A McMullen single in the top of the ninth would score a run for Florida, but the comeback would fall short, netting a Tennessee win — the club’s 27th of the season.
The series concluded Sunday afternoon with the Vols looking for the sweep. Tennessee used Blade Tidwell to start the game, and he would ultimately pitch five innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. Sean Hunley (4-2) would take the loss as he gave up three runs in 0.2 innings of work.
The Gators bookended the scoring Sunday, leading the game off with a run-scoring double in the second inning.
In the bottom of that same inning, a Liam Spence bases loaded walk would tie the game, 1-1.
In the fourth, a two-run Young homer positioned Florida ahead once again, but the Vols would match that output in the bottom half — and then some. Logan Steenstra scored on a wild pitch, cutting the Gator lead to one; a Max Ferguson single plated another, knotting the game for the second time. Finally, a Jake Rucker groundout brought in seal-breaking run in the middle innings. Headed to the fifth, Tennessee was on top, 4-3.
In the bottom of the fifth, Connor Pavolony hit his first home run of the season, extending the Vol advantage to 6-3.
In the seventh, Florida cut the Tennessee lead to two when Kirby McMullen grounded out, bringing home a run in the process.
In the eighth, a pinch-hit three run homer by Kris Armstrong pushed the Gators ahead — a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, taking the game 7-6 and avoiding the sweep.
Tennessee, now 27-6 overall and 9-3 in-conference, will continue its season Tuesday evening when the team heads to Cullowhee, North Carolina, to take on the Western Carolina Catamounts for the second time this season. SEC play resumes Friday night when the Vanderbilt Commodores come to Knoxville for a top five matchup.