BASEBALL: Tennessee/Florida Baseball Preview

The fourth ranked Gators host eighteenth ranked Tennessee in a series that should go a long way toward determining the SEC Eastern Division Championship. The word in Knoxville is that the Vols believe they have been slighted and are deserving of a higher ranking. They plan on making their case in Gainesville.

The competitive juices of the Florida baseball team run deep. Personally, I don't believe that it takes much to stoke those competitive fires. Getting the Gators fired up for this one should be easy, very easy. Just in case the Gators are in need an emotional lift, here are five things that should immediately get their attention.
  • The Vols come to Gainesville leading the Southeastern Conference in hitting .332 average. Eli Iorg (54) and J.P Arencibia (53) took the conference RBI lead over Matt LaPorta (50) courtesy of three mid-week games.
  • Tennessee leads the conference in pitching with a .311 ERA. The Vols have allowed opponents to hit only .243 against them. Friday starter Luke Hochevar and Saturday starter James Atkins are undefeated in SEC play.
  • Hochevar (9-2, .194 OBA) will be the first ten game winner in the conference should he burn the Gators for a Friday night victory.
  • Two Volunteer players (Eli Iorg and Josh Alley) rank second and third in the conference in stolen bases.
  • Finally, the Vols (14-16 SEC) took two out of three from the Gators last year, in the last weekend of the regular season. The Gators finished a distant third to SEC Champion Georgia…by two games.
Series Records

Overall…Florida leads 126-68 (.649)

Under Pat McMahon…Florida leads 6-3

The series loss to Tennessee last year was only the second since 1996. Traditionally, Tennessee volunteers a couple of losses to the Gators annually.

Tennessee 2005

The Vols played three mid-week games in an effort to get ready for the Gators this weekend. They took a doubleheader from Tennessee Temple on Tuesday by scores of 20-3 and 14-0. They took to Lindsey Nelson Field again on Wednesday, where they were beaten by Furman 3-2. The Paladins (18-20) ripped UT starter Chris Howell for 11 hits and three earned runs in just five innings. Three Furman pitchers combined to allow the Vols just five hits and one earned run.

Tennessee has won four of their six series, including wins against common opponents Kentucky (2-1) and Auburn (2-1). They dropped series against Ole Miss (1-2) and last weekend on the road at Vanderbilt (1-2).


All-American candidate Luke Hochevar and true freshman James Atkins lead a Tennessee pitching staff that is strong on the aforementioned talent, but slim on quality depth. Florida Coach Pat McMahon loves nothing better than to get into an opponents' bullpen. The third Tennessee starter should be Craig Cobb, who lost to the Gators last season.


RHP Luke Hochevar (9-2) 6'5 205 Jr. 1.67 ERA .194 OBA

The junior leads the SEC in strikeouts with 87. He is trying to become the first 10 game winner in the SEC. Hochevar has a great fastball with a range of 90-95 mph, a pretty good curveball, and a hard breaking slider.

Hochevar started the Friday game against Florida in Knoxville. He allowed ten hits and four earned runs in 7.1 innings. He struck out five while walking only one and received no decision in the game. The Gators weren't able to score a run on Hochevar until the sixth. Former Florida star Ben Harrison was hit by a pitch. Jeff Corsaletti followed with a single. With two out, Matt LaPorta homered to tie the game at 3-3. Other Florida players to collect hits off of Hochevar were Justin Tordi, Stephen Barton, Adam Davis, Corsaletti (2), and Brian Jeroloman who each singled.

LHP James Atkins (6-1) 6'5 200 Fr. 2.00 ERA .227 OBA

Atkins was drafted in the 13th round by the Philadelphia Phillies organization last year. He pitched very well last weekend versus Vanderbilt. The southpaw pitched 6.2 innings giving up seven hits and just one earned run. Atkins struck out eight batters, while walking just two.

He currently ranks fifth in SEC individual pitching ranks and third in strikeouts with 75. Atkins has a nasty curveball and a fastball that seemingly comes in harder than the actual 86-90 mph.

RHP Craig Cobb (4-2) 5'10 175 So. 4.35 ERA .306 OBA

Vanderbilt lit the righty up for four earned runs in 7.2 innings last Sunday. However, he did strike out five Commodores batters. Cobb pitched four innings the week before against Arkansas. He gave up six hits and only one earned run.

Cobb started the final game of the regular season against Florida. He was rocked for 12 hits and five earned runs in seven innings. He was saddled with the loss dropping him to 3-3 on the season. Adam Davis, Matt LaPorta, and Justin Tordi each had hits off of Cobb.


RHP Sean Watson 5-3) 5'10 175 So. 3.18 ERA .230 OBA Three saves

Watson didn't fare well last season against Florida. He lasted only 1.2 innings, allowing five hits and four earned runs as he faced just eleven batters. Unfortunately, Tennessee rallied to score six runs in the eight and defeat the Gators.

RHP Joey Andrews (2-2) 5'11 185 Sr. 2.19 ERA .205 OBA Two saves

Andrews pitched relief of Cobb last weekend against Vanderbilt. He inherited a base runner in the eighth and promptly gave up a home run which proved to be the game winning hit. He pitched 2.1 innings against Furman on Wednesday night. Andrews gave up three hits without allowing a run.

RHP Chris Howell (1-3) 6'1 210 Sr. 5.04 ERA .324 OBA Four saves

Howell surrendered 11 hits and three earned runs on Wednesday night to Furman. He has not seen much action against SEC opponents. He did pitch the final out of the Sunday contest against Vanderbilt.


Tommy Boss pitched well enough last season against the Vols to get the win. The Boss Man pitched 5.2 innings, allowing seven hits and only one earned run. He pitched very well last weekend in Auburn. Boss (5-2, .319 OBA) allowed seven hits and just two earned runs in seven innings. Boss struck out five Tigers.

Darren O'Day (5-3, .205) closed out the Auburn Tigers with a strong performance Friday night. O'Day pitched two innings and struck out five of the six batters he faced.

Freshman Stephen Locke (5-0, .247 OBA) pitched 3.1 shutout innings in relief of Saturday starter Bryan Ball. Locke pitched 5.2 shutout innings against the Bulldogs, sending many in attendance home early. He allowed only five hits, while striking out seven.

Alan Horne (4-2, .313 OBA) threw 122 pitches last weekend. He allowed 11 hits, but only four earned runs, while striking out eight. Horne's number of pitches and strikeouts were both season highs.

Connor Falkenbach picked up the only win against Tennessee last season. The right hander pitched 7.1 strong innings, allowing only the earned runs on five hits. He was spelled in relief by Bryan Ball, who shut the Vols out in 1.2 innings.

Last weekend Falkenbach (3-1, .274 OBA) closed out the Tigers on Saturday pitching two no hit, shutout innings to earn his fourth save of the year. He returned on Sunday pitching 4.1 innings shutout innings. He picked up his third win of the season in the game. Falkenbach struck out six over the weekend.




Opp BA
























Tennessee jumped out to big first inning offensive productions in their Tuesday battles against Tennessee Temple. The Vols scored 12 runs in game one and 8 runs in the nightcap.

Eight Tennessee starters boast of a batting average above .317. Right fielder Eli Iorg is currently the sixth best hitter for average (.386) in the conference. Iorg should be able to gather a lot of advice from his brother, who faced the Florida pitching staff as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide just two weeks ago. He leads the Vols in home runs (12), RBI's (54), and stolen bases (22). Iorg has only drawn 15 walks this season.

Chase Headley is the Vols second leading hitter with a .375 average. Headley leads the team with a .548 on base percentage, a .708 slugging percentage, and has drawn a team high 47 walks.

Center fielder Josh Alley is a threat on the base paths with 21 stolen bases and 53 runs scored. Alley is second on the squad with and on base percentage of .485. His 36 free passes are also second on the team.

The Gators Jeff Corsaletti (.411), Gavin Dickey (.337), and Matt LaPorta (.333) are Florida's top hitters. Corso has been cooling off a bit as of late, but he is perhaps the best leadoff hitter in the conference. Dickey has also been cooling off a bit. LaPorta had a brief cooling off period as few weeks ago when he was sick. He has now turned it up and is slapping the cover off of the ball.

Florida has six players who have drawn 20+ walks. Tennessee has only two players who have drawn more than 20 walks.




























Florida has improved tremendously in the filed over the past two weeks. The Gators have committed only four errors, raising their fielding percentage to .966. Florida has turned 11 double plays in the past two weeks alone. Prior to the Alabama series, the Gators were averaging less than one double play per game (.939) Florida enters the Tennessee contest averaging 1.57 DP's the past two weeks.

Third baseman Chase Headley has committed 14 errors in 153 chances, (.908). Shortstop Eric King has committed 10 errors in 182 chances, (.945). Second baseman Michael Rivera has eight errors in 189 chances.

The Gators only have two players who have committed more than five errors. Adam Davis leads the team with 12 errors in 225 chances (.947). Third baseman Brandon McArthur has committed nine errors in just 61 chances (.852).



Fielding %


















Base running

Florida will need a strong effort from the pitching staff, infield, and Brian "The Samurai" Jeroloman as the Vols have successfully ripped off 80 of 96 (.833) stolen base attempts. In fact, The Samurai and company will face the three teams (Tennessee (2nd), Arkansas (1st), and Vanderbilt (3rd) leading the conference in stolen bases over the next month.

The Gators should be able to run on Tennessee catcher J.P Arencibia. The freshman from Miami Westminster has not been able to master the fielding aspects of the game as well as he has the bat. Arencibia has allowed 38 stolen bases, while throwing out just 14 on the season. Davis (19-22, 864), Stephen Barton (10-12, .833), and Corsaletti (10-11, .909) account for 71% of the Gators stolen base counts in 2005. Look for Florida to run against the Vols with supreme confidence.


Coach Rod Delmonico is entering his 16th season at Tennessee. Delmonico is the winningest coach in the Tennessee history, who sports a record of 588-326.

Florida Pat McMahon has all of the tools in Gainesville. He is also making the right calls. The Gators have Omaha chemistry and talent. If they can stay focused and take care of business, they won't go home early this season. McMahon will be the key to keeping them focused.


The Gators are 23-6 when playing in The Mac. Florida has won seven of their last nine conference games in Gainesville. Furthermore, the Gators are 12-6 versus Top 25 teams. Tennessee is 8-4 on the road. However, the ‘Dores took two of three from the Vols on the road this past weekend.

Fightin Gators Top Stories