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Friday April 21, 2000Baseball Drops Opener to Tennessee 5-4

Knoxville, Tenn.

John Massey’s home run to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning gave Tennessee a 5-4 victory over Florida in the series opener Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Florida dropped to 29-17-1, 10-8-1 in SEC play, while Tennessee improved to 34-15, 7-10 in SEC play.

“It was a very good game,” said Head Coach Andy Lopez. “You hate to see either team come out on the short end.”

Leading off the inning, Massey hit Smalley’s first pitch over the left field foul pole as umpire Eddie Loggins tracked it down the line. It was his fifth home run of the season, giving Florida just its second one-run loss on the year.

UT senior Jamie Bennett pitched a complete game, earning his eighth win of the season against two defeats. He allowed four runs on 11 hits with one walk and four strikeouts.

Junior Mike Smalley (3-6) took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits over eight innings.

“Mike did a good job with the exception of the second inning,” said Lopez, referring to UT’s three-run second inning that erased a 3-0 Florida lead.

Florida and Tennessee equaled each other through the first five innings on the scoreboard. Florida jumped ahead first with three runs in the second inning, highlighted by a home run by Tony Socarras for the first run of the game. Four UF players followed with singles as the Gators scored a second run, stringing together a season-high five consecutive hits. Kurt Keene completed the scoring with a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded for a 3-0 lead.

Smalley failed to take advantage of the lead, giving up a double to lead off the inning to Jeff Christensen and a pair of walks to load the bases. Center fielder Jeff Baumtrog then followed with a bases-clearing double to left field to tie the game at 3.

Each team plated a single run in the fifth inning, tying the game for a second time at 4. UF scored on a run-scoring single by Pete Nystrom, while UT pushed across a run in the bottom of the inning on a Kris Bennett sacrifice fly.

The game remained tied until the decisive home run in the eighth. Florida threatened in the top of the ninth after a leadoff single by Ryan Raburn. Kevin Estrada then forced the runner to second with a sacrifice bunt, putting the tying run in scoring position. Mark Kiger flied out for the second out the inning, setting the stage for former Vol Keene to tie the game. But, Bennett walked Keene, bringing Jason Dill to the plate. Dill struck out swinging to end the game.

Tim Olson extended his hit streak to 28 games with a fifth inning single. He finished 1-for-4 on the night. His 28 game hit streak is tied for the fifth longest in SEC history.

The two schools play the second game of the series Saturday at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on WRUF AM 850 starting at 6:50 p.m.

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