Gators Take Early Lead, Cruise to Series Win

No. 4 Florida didn't waste any time erasing the bad memories left by Saturday's loss. The Gators scored four runs in the first inning, keyed by a Brian Johnson three-run double, and didn't look back from there. Johnson also gave Florida six shutout innings on the mound Sunday as the Gators clinched the series win over Tennessee with an 8-1 win in Knoxville.

"Offensively, we came out of the gates and swung the bats really good," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said on the post game radio show.

After Brian Johnson cleared the bases with his double and moved to third on the throw to the plate, he scored as Justin Shafer hit a sacrifice fly to left field. The Gators had a 4-0 lead before Tennessee, who came into the weekend with the worst batting average in the conference, came to the plate.

The Volunteers couldn't push across a run in the first inning to take any of the momentum back. When Florida came to hit in the second inning, the offense continued to pour on the runs. Vickash Ramjit started the inning with a home run to left field.

"The home run was a big key hit for us, but there were a lot of good, solid at-bats today, especially in the first four or five innings," O'Sullivan said.

On the mound, Johnson was dominant.

In six innings of work, he allowed six hits, no runs and one walk while recording four strikeouts.

"Brian had a great start," O'Sullivan said. "That's the second start in the last few where he's had some run support. We jumped out to a lead against South Carolina, and he threw a 27-pitch first inning, but today was different.

"We jumped out 4-0, and he threw strikes and commanded the strike zone. I was really, really pleased with his demeanor today."

Greg Larson threw a scoreless seventh inning. Daniel Gibson, Ryan Harris, Bobby Poyner and Keenan Kish combined to throw the final two innings, allowing one hit, one walk and one run.

"I thought today was about as complete of a game as we've played in a while," O'Sullivan said.

The win was also important because of the SEC standings. Kentucky won two games in its series at Arkansas, so the Gators have to win on Sunday to stay two games back in the race for the SEC Championship.

"Anytime you win a series, whether you're on the road or at home, it's huge," O'Sullivan said. "It moves us to 9-6. There's a huge difference between that and 8-7. We're in the hunt."

Sunday's game also completed a stretch of 12 road games in the last 15 games. Florida returns home on Tuesday when it hosts Georgia Southern. The Georgia Bulldogs make the trip to Gainesville for a conference series next weekend.

"We finished up this road trip, and now we're looking forward to getting back home," O'Sullivan said. "It has been a long road trip. I know we're looking forward to getting home and into our own beds while getting into a routine again.

"We scheduled our schedule for a reason. This team needs to be pushed and to be challenged. It's talented enough to handle it. We've played the hardest schedule in the country, so hopefully we're learning from it and continue to get better."

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