BASEBALL: Vols Stop Gators, 7-2, Take Series

Buoyed by a strong performance by righthander Craig Cobb, Tennessee beat Florida 7-2 in front of 1,632 in Gainesville Sunday afternoon. The loss was the first home series loss for the Gators as well as the first SEC series loss since the opening conference weekend.

Cobb (5-2), a sophomore, became the first pitcher to throw a complete game against the Gators this season. The Knoxville native scattered six hits and gave up just two earned runs, while walking four and striking out five Florida batters.

"We ran into an outstanding pitcher today," Coach Pat McMahon said. "He really pitched well. He had three pitches and used them well. He had a right-on-right change-up, a good breaking ball, and a fastball that he used on both sides of the plate. So much of pitching is disrupting the timing of the hitter. He really disrupted our timing today."

Designated hitter Stephen Barton was the only Florida player to secure more than one hit. The junior from Miami had the most consistent offensive series for the Gators as he hit five of eight and drew four walks in the three games. Barton ripped a double, scored three runs, and had an RBI in the series.

It was the vaunted Tennessee offensive attack and strong pitching from Luke Hochevar (Friday) and Craig Cobb (Sunday) that helped them take a 2-1 series victory over Florida.

The Vols pounded out 42 hits in the series and scored 27 runs. Twelve of the Tennessee hits went for extra bases, including four home runs. The Gators countered with just 27 hits which scored 25 runs. Florida had 10 extra base hits with five of those going deep.

Florida starter Bryan Ball (5-2) matched Cobb pretty much pitch for pitch through the first four innings. The Charlotte County High School graduate pitched 5.1 innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs, while striking out four. Ball only walked one hitter.

For the third day in a row, Tennessee took the early lead. That is something that the Gators have preached throughout the season but failed to take control of this weekend. Ball had held the Vols scoreless on just two hits until the alarm on the Tennessee bats went off and they scored two runs in the top of the fifth and three in the top of the sixth.

The Gators finally answered in the bottom half of the sixth. With one out, Adam Davis walked. Two batters later Brian LeClerc unloaded on a 1-2 pitch by Cobb and bounced it off of the top of the scoreboard to close the gap to 5-2.

"He (Cobb) was making pitches when he had to," LeClerc said. "He kept us off balance, moving it in and out on the plate. He was very good today."

Tennessee added two more runs in the ninth, as Florida was just unable to generate any momentum off of Cobb.

The Gators will be back in The Mac Tuesday night as Florida State comes to town to take on the Gators for the rubber match in the series. Florida won the first game 9-2, while the Seminoles took game two 4-2. Coach McMahon has yet to settle on a starter and he may use several pitchers to get through this non-conference game. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

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