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
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
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.