Gator Bats Come Alive

After 12 runs in their last five games, the Gators (22-5/6-2 SEC) needed an offensive outburst. It came on Saturday. No. 3 Florida pieced together a seven-run seventh inning to cushion the two-run lead it already had and put the Volunteers away for good. The Gators won the series with an 11-2 victory over Tennessee (19-8/2-6 SEC).

"Offensively, we've been working through this thing," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said in his post game radio show. "It's great to put a seven-spot up in the seventh, but I was really proud of our guys with how we bounced back."

The seventh inning started with the Gators loading the bases on a single, a fielder's choice and a walk. Austin Maddox followed by hitting into a double play that scored a run, but it looked like it ended the scoring chances. Instead, it just got the scoring started.

Josh Adams and Brian Johnson followed with walks to reload the bases. Zack Powers drove a run in by walking, and after Tennessee brought reliever Hunter Daniel in the game, Nolan Fontana drove a three-run triple down the right field line. He ended the game 3-for-4 at the plate, tying a career high with six RBIs.

Daniel Pigott then blasted a two-run home run into the left field bleachers to give the Gators the 11-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

"To open it up like that, I think it helped our guys relax," O'Sullivan said.

On the mound, Brian Johnson cruised through the first five innings, giving up only one hit in that period of time. The left-hander gave up three hits in the sixth inning, including a two-run home run to Tennessee second baseman Khayyan Norfork that tied the score at two. Johnson gave up a single and walk to the next two hitters, and O'Sullivan gave the ball to Anthony DeSclafani.

DeSclafani got Josh Liles to bounce into a double play, and the Gators got out of the inning without further damage.

"Brian gave us a really good start, but I thought Anthony was kind of the savior to this whole deal today," O'Sullivan said. "He came in with a 2-2 game and two runners on, and he threw outstanding.

After the Volunteers tied the game at two off Johnson, the Florida offense responded. The inning started with a single for Josh Adams, and he moved to third when Johnson doubled to left. Two batters later, Nolan Fontana singled up the middle to score both runners and push the lead to 4-2.

"To bounce back in the bottom of the sixth with Nolan's key hit, hopefully that will be a jumpstart for our offense," O'Sullivan said.

Keenan Kish recorded one strikeout in during a perfect ninth inning to end the game. It was the freshman's fourth inning of the year, and he is yet to allow a run.

Florida will go for the sweep of Tennessee on Sunday at 1 p.m. Freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson will take the mound for the Gators against a Volunteers pitcher yet to be determined.

"We've got to be ready to go tomorrow," O'Sullivan said. "We've got our bullpen fresh like last Sunday."


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