Tennessee (32-22/12-14 SEC) claimed its series opener
at Florida (27-27/14-14 SEC) with a 6-5 win on Thursday night at McKethan
Stadium. The squads endured a 77-minute weather delay and the Vols fended off
several comeback attempts by the Gators to remain in the hunt for an SEC
Tournament berth. Senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.)
was walked five times intentionally to match his own school record for free
passes in a game but UF stranded 13 runners. Junior James Adkins (6-7)
registered nine strikeouts over 6.2 innings to earn the victory, while freshman
Jeff Lockwood picked up his seventh save by collecting the final four outs.
“Our guys battled their hearts out tonight,” said
head coach Pat McMahon. “James
Adkins and Kyle (Mullaney) matched up very well, and it made for a great
baseball game. Kyle pitched with great determination. We did well off the
mound, with the exception of one or two pitches and one or two defensive plays.
Bryan (Augenstein) has a wonderful opportunity ahead of him tomorrow.”
the bases in the third against Adkins but came away empty-handed. Freshman Clayton Pisani (Naples,
Fla.) reached on an error by sophomore
Danny Lima and advanced to third on a two-out single by senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.).
LaPorta was walked intentionally for the second-straight time to fill the sacks
and Adkins caught senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.)
looking for his fifth K.
a 2-0 lead in the fourth courtesy of two unearned runs off freshman Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) (4-2). Junior J.P. Arencibia
started the fourth with a double into right center, and a throwing error by
junior third baseman Jon Townsend
(London, Ky.) on freshman Yan Gomes’ grounder left the Vols with two men in
scoring position and none out. A four-pitch walk to Lockwood loaded the bases
and a fielder’s choice by sophomore Tony Delmonico scored Arencibia with the
game’s opening run. Junior Shawn Griffin followed with a sacrifice fly to left
to bring in Gomes.
In the bottom of the frame, sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando,
Fla.) and freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.)
had back-to-back one-out singles off Adkins. The southpaw responded by fanning
Pisani and had freshman Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.)
pop up to second base.
The visitors took a 3-0 lead in the sixth in an RBI
single up the middle by Delmonico. Arencibia led off with a single through the
left side and Lockwood launched a one-out double to the base of the center
field wall to put the Vols in business. After Delmonico delivered the
run-scoring base-knock, Mullaney responded with a key strikeout of Griffin and had sophomore
Cody Brown ground out.
trimmed the deficit to 3-2 in the home part of the stanza on a two-run homer to
left center by Pigott. Townsend started things off with a walk and Pigott
connected on his second round-tripper with one down.
UT expanded its advantage to 5-2 with two runs on
three hits in the seventh. Lima
opened with an infield hit and was sacrificed to second by junior Andy Simunic.
Junior Julio Borbon rifled a triple into the right-field corner to plate Lima and Arencibia was
walked intentionally for runners on the corners. A flare into left by Gomes ended
the night for Mullaney (6.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 ER). Senior David Hurst (Jacksonville,
Fla.) prevented further
scoring to hold his club’s deficit at three runs.
within 5-4 in the home part of the inning on a clutch two-out base-hit from
Neer. Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.)
opened the frame with a single down the left-field line and LaPorta was
later walked intentionally for the fourth time in a row with one out. The move
backfired when Leclerc poked an RBI single into left center. A fielder’s choice
by Townsend gave UF runners on the corners and two down before Neer sliced a
1-1 offering into left field to score LaPorta and force a pitching change.
Sophomore Aaron Everett took over for Adkins (6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 9 K, 5 BB) and
struck out Pigott to strand the runners.
Junior Chad Maddox belted a pinch-hit homer off Hurst to begin the eighth
and give the Vols a 6-4 edge. The Orange
and Blue mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the stanza but was held at
bay. Figueroa smashed a double down the left-field line and Pride drew a walk
before LaPorta was walked on purpose for the fifth-consecutive plate appearance
to load the bases. Lockwood replaced Everett
and caught Leclerc looking on strikes to preserve UT’s lead.
With the Gators down to their final out, Barnes
came through with a single to right field to score Neer. Lockwood struck out
Townsend before yielding a free pass to Neer. A grounder by Pigott moved his
teammate into scoring position and Barnes stroked a 1-2 pitch from the closer
to narrow the gap to 6-5. Lockwood fanned freshman pinch hitter Jake Hicks (Molino, Fla.)
to end the game.
The Vols held a 12-9 edge in hits, as Arencibia,
Borbon and Gomes had two apiece. The trio of Figueroa, Neer and Pigott had two
hits for the hosts. Junior right-hander Bryan
Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) (6-5, 5.49) will oppose Tennessee freshman
left-hander Nick Hernandez (4-2, 5.25) tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.