Vols edge Gators

Tennessee (32-22/12-14 SEC) claimed its series opener at Florida (27-27/14-14 SEC) with a 6-5 win on Thursday night at McKethan Stadium. The squads endured a 77-minute weather delay and the Vols fended off several comeback attempts by the Gators to remain in the hunt for an SEC Tournament berth.

Senior Matt LaPorta was walked five times intentionally to match his own school record for free passes in a game but UF stranded 13 runners. Junior James Adkins (6-7) registered nine strikeouts over 6.2 innings to earn the victory, while freshman Jeff Lockwood picked up his seventh save by collecting the final four outs.

"Our guys battled their hearts out tonight," said head coach Pat McMahon. "James Adkins and Kyle (Mullaney) matched up very well, and it made for a great baseball game. Kyle pitched with great determination. We did well off the mound, with the exception of one or two pitches and one or two defensive plays. Bryan (Augenstein) has a wonderful opportunity ahead of him tomorrow."

Florida loaded the bases in the third against Adkins but came away empty-handed. Freshman Clayton Pisani reached on an error by sophomore Danny Lima and advanced to third on a two-out single by senior Austin Pride. LaPorta was walked intentionally for the second-straight time to fill the sacks and Adkins caught senior Brian Leclerc looking for his fifth K.

Tennessee seized a 2-0 lead in the fourth courtesy of two unearned runs off freshman Kyle Mullaney (4-2). Junior J.P. Arencibia started the fourth with a double into right center, and a throwing error by junior third baseman Jon Townsend on freshman Yan Gomes' grounder left the Vols with two men in scoring position and none out. A four-pitch walk to Lockwood loaded the bases and a fielder's choice by sophomore Tony Delmonico scored Arencibia with the game's opening run. Junior Shawn Griffin followed with a sacrifice fly to left to bring in Gomes.

In the bottom of the frame, sophomore Cody Neer and freshman Jonathan Pigott had back-to-back one-out singles off Adkins. The southpaw responded by fanning Pisani and had freshman Hampton Tignor pop up to second base.

The visitors took a 3-0 lead in the sixth in an RBI single up the middle by Delmonico. Arencibia led off with a single through the left side and Lockwood launched a one-out double to the base of the center field wall to put the Vols in business. After Delmonico delivered the run-scoring base-knock, Mullaney responded with a key strikeout of Griffin and had sophomore Cody Brown ground out.

Florida trimmed the deficit to 3-2 in the home part of the stanza on a two-run homer to left center by Pigott. Townsend started things off with a walk and Pigott connected on his second round-tripper with one down.

UT expanded its advantage to 5-2 with two runs on three hits in the seventh. Lima opened with an infield hit and was sacrificed to second by junior Andy Simunic. Junior Julio Borbon rifled a triple into the right-field corner to plate Lima and Arencibia was walked intentionally for runners on the corners. A flare into left by Gomes ended the night for Mullaney (6.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 ER). Senior David Hurst prevented further scoring to hold his club's deficit at three runs.

Florida closed within 5-4 in the home part of the inning on a clutch two-out base-hit from Neer. Freshman Cole Figueroa opened the frame with a single down the left-field line and LaPorta was later walked intentionally for the fourth time in a row with one out. The move backfired when Leclerc poked an RBI single into left center. A fielder's choice by Townsend gave UF runners on the corners and two down before Neer sliced a 1-1 offering into left field to score LaPorta and force a pitching change. Sophomore Aaron Everett took over for Adkins (6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 9 K, 5 BB) and struck out Pigott to strand the runners.

Junior Chad Maddox belted a pinch-hit homer off Hurst to begin the eighth and give the Vols a 6-4 edge. The Orange and Blue mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the stanza but was held at bay. Figueroa smashed a double down the left-field line and Pride drew a walk before LaPorta was walked on purpose for the fifth-consecutive plate appearance to load the bases. Lockwood replaced Everett and caught Leclerc looking on strikes to preserve UT's lead.

With the Gators down to their final out, Barnes came through with a single to right field to score Neer. Lockwood struck out Townsend before yielding a free pass to Neer. A grounder by Pigott moved his teammate into scoring position and Barnes stroked a 1-2 pitch from the closer to narrow the gap to 6-5. Lockwood fanned freshman pinch hitter Jake Hicks to end the game.

The Vols held a 12-9 edge in hits, as Arencibia, Borbon and Gomes had two apiece. The trio of Figueroa, Neer and Pigott had two hits for the hosts. Junior right-hander Bryan Augenstein (6-5, 5.49) will oppose Tennessee freshman left-hander Nick Hernandez (4-2, 5.25) Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Courtesy UF Sports Information

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