Tennessee starter Chase Dollander gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits, walked three and punched out seven in 4 IP, but Tennessee’s offense managed just one run on seven hits and the Florida Gators came into LNS and took game one 6-1.
Dollander’s three walks tied a season high, and the three earned-runs are tied for the second-most he’s allowed this season, with the six-run Mizzou start being the worst of the season so far.
Tennessee’s ace was pretty good through the first four innings: he worked around two-out walk in the first and didn’t give up a run, in the second, Florida’s leadoff hitter got on base thanks to a Blake Burke fielding error, then Dollander gave two singles and a walk, but UF managed just the one unearned run on two hits and a walk, leaving three men on base.
It wasn’t until the top of the fifth when things went poorly, as Dollander gave up a four-pitch, lead-off walk to start and a 0-1 double after. Vitello yanked Dollander and put in Seth Halvorsen, who Florida’s three-hole hitter Josh Rivera took deep for a three-run home run on a 3-1 count. The Gators went deep back-to-back when UF cleanup hitter BT Riopelle took a full-count pitch deep for another home run.
After that, the rest of Tennessee’s relievers accounted for 2.2 IP, two hits, no runs and four strikeouts.
Despite what putting up one run may look like it says about the offense, Tennessee didn’t struggle for base runners. Dylan Dreiling drew a one-out walk in the first, but UF starter Brandon Sproat struck out Christian Moore and Jared Dickey to end the inning.
Blake Burke led off the second inning with a home run, and Hunter Ensley followed it with a single. Then Sproat struck out Zane Denton and Kyle Booker on 2-2 and 3-2 pitches and got Christian Scott to fly out to end the inning and stifle the mini-run the Vols were putting together.
Again, in the bottom of the third: Maui Ahuna led the inning off with a base hit, made it to second on a balk, but was stranded when the rest of top of the order failed to get him home. A lead-off walk in the fourth from Burke was wasted, another lead-off walk, this time from Christian Scott was wasted in the fifth, even after a Dreiling single got Scott into scoring position. Sproat got the two final outs and escaped unscathed again.
Sproat’s final line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 9 Ks.
The Vols got to UF’s bullpen in the sixth when Denton walked with two outs, and Sproat hit Cal Start. Reliever Philip Abner came in and gave up a base hit to the first batter he faced, Christian Scott. But he got Maui Ahuna out on a swinging K to end the inning with three Vols stranded.
The bats had less luck with Abner than they did with Sproat: Abner gave up just two hits in 2.1 IP, struck out six and didn’t walk a batter.
Tennessee attempted to rally in the bottom of the 9th inning as Florida went to Brandon Neely to finish the game. Christian Scott smacked a lead-off single, and Maui Ahuna drew a full-count walk. Unfortunately, Dreiling and Moore both stuck out looking. Jared Dickey took four-straight balls for a walk, and the Vols had the bases loaded with two outs. Blake Burke struck out swinging to end the game.
The offense’s final numbers: 1 R, 7 H, 13 runners stranded on base. Christian Moore and Jared Dickey, in the three-and-four spots in the lineup, combined to go 0-9 with seven strikeouts. Nine-hole batter Christian Scott and Blake Burke were the only two Vols that managed more than one hit during the game.
Tennessee looks to Chase Burns tomorrow to even up the series, but if the Vols can’t start hitting better with runners on-base, it won’t matter. A final little note — tonight’s error that cost the Vols a run in the second was the team’s 25th error in 30 games. UT is hovering around the 70s in terms of national fielding percentage, via the NCAA’s stats.