Vols snap Gators' home winning streak

For the second Sunday in a row, Florida failed to put their brooms in motion. Though the Gators secured the Tennessee series with wins Friday and Saturday, the Vols escaped with a 4-2 victory in Sunday's finale harnessed in the hands of Vols senior ace Zack Godley's complete game. The loss snapped Florida's nine-game winning streak on home turf.

Florida fired away with impressive starts on both sides of the diamond. Left-hander Bobby Poyner notched his first SEC start on the mound and rifled a 1-2-3 outing of work in the first.

The Gators wasted no time heating up at the plate, scoring two runs off Godley. Casey Turgeon pulled a one-out single into right and was knocked in off right fielder Justin Shafer's RBI triple down the right field line. On two outs, first baseman Vickash Ramjit pulled a single to deep short to plate Shafer and give the orange and blue a 2-0 advantage.

Poyner's command sputtered slightly in the top of the second as the sophomore southpaw let up a leadoff home run over the left-field wall to Vols catcher Ethan Bennett.

The homer was the only plate production Tennessee dished until the fourth inning. One out deep, UT second baseman Taylor Smart singled with a hard grounder to third base. Poyner had retired seven in a row prior to his at-bat.

"I was just trying to throw the ball down and compete and get ahead of guys," Poyner said.

But the Gators cleared the base paths by picking off Smart at first and retiring him on his go at second.

Florida's lefty maintained control until the top of the sixth inning, letting up back-to-back doubles to Tennessee's last two batters of the order: Zach Luther and Derek Lance. Lance's double down the right-field line tied the game at two.

Freshman right-hander Eric Hanhold took over for Poyner with one out and Lance on second. Poyner finished with a career-high 5.1 innings pitched and faced 19 batters in 79 pitches.

"I thought he gave us a good start," coach Kevin O'Sullivan said of Poyner. "He threw the ball well — well enough for us to put us in position to get a win today. The bottom line is Godley threw the ball really well. He's their No. 1 guy and he has been doing that to people all year long. He certainly deserves all the credit."

The Vols were able to continue execution in the sixth through shortstop A.J. Simcox whose RBI groundout to third brought Lance across the plate and gifted UT with a 3-2 lead. It was the first time the Gators trailed the Vols all series.

Tennessee stayed hot at the plate into the seventh inning, cranking back-to-back singles off Hanhold. After a sac bunt put runners on second and third, the freshman was pulled for veteran left-handed pitcher Daniel Gibson to face fellow lefty hitter Christin Stewart. Gibson pinned the Vol with a strikeout and right-hander Ryan Harris commanded the hill from there.

Harris' first pitch slipped by catcher Taylor Gushue to widen Tennessee's lead 4-2. The sophomore righty registered the groundout to bring Florida back to the plate in the seventh.

UF freshman center fielder Richie Martin clinked a one-out single through the left side snapping Godley's streak of retiring eight straight Gators.

"He kept his velocity up the whole game," Martin said of Godley. "He really located and he had good off speed – he mixed it up a lot."

Martin was stranded and the Vols earned the zero on Florida in the seventh through the rest of the contest to finalize the game at 4-2. Godley finished his complete game at 111 pitches striking out six in the 37 batters he faced.

After the finale, O'Sullivan said though the Gators lost, the big picture the team can take from this weekend's SEC series snag is Florida's better play. UF's head coach said he was pleased with the starting pitching, timely hitting and relief appearances.

"We're pitching and playing defense," O'Sullivan said. "Obviously, we have to a little bit better job offensively. But today you have to tip your cap to Godley. He did a really good job."

The Gators are now 12-9 in the SEC and 25-20 overall. The Gators are off from midweek play prior to tackling the Tigers for a series at Louisiana State beginning Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

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