GAINESVILLE, Fla. (release) - Trailing Florida 2-0 going into the eighth, Tennessee battled back to tie the game with runs in each of the next two innings and worked out of a perilous situation in the bottom of the ninth only to see the Gators win, 3-2, with a walk-off grounder by Zack Powers in the bottom of the 10th on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium.
With the score tied 2-2 and the bases loaded with nobody out in the home half of the 10th, Powers punched a groundball to short where A.J. Simcox made a diving snag. His throw to the plate was a half-second late, however, and Casey Turgeon scored to give the Gators the series-clinching victory.
“After a game like that, obviously we are devastated with another loss, but how can you fault our guys,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “I thought we played hard, we fought back. We got a great pitching performance from Nick Williams, a great relief stint by Andy Cox and Trevor [Bettencourt] comes in and picks up Andy in the ninth and it gets away from us in the 10th.
“We left too many opportunities out there again and it cost us. I hate losing but I can go back to the hotel and feel a little better because we took a step forward as a team tonight. I thought we fought, we had some grit, but there are some things that we continue to do that are effecting us in the win column.”
Simcox finished 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI, a walk and a stolen base to lead the Volunteer offense, while Will Maddox added two more hits, a pair of walks and a run scored after a three-hit effort last night.
Nick Williams gave the Big Orange a quality start on the mound, yielding just two runs on seven hits while striking out five over 6.2 innings of work. Andy Cox added 1.2 innings of scoreless relief to help send the game to extra innings.
Tennessee is now 6-9 in one-run games and 1-4 in extra-inning contests this season.
Down 2-0 going into the eighth inning, Tennessee rallied back with runs in the next two frames to tie the contest at 2-2. Maddox got the ball rolling for the Vols with a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth and Simcox followed with a single through the left side for UT’s first hit since the top of the first. Scott Price then got Tennessee on the board with a sacrifice fly to left to cut the deficit in half.
After a scoreless bottom of the eighth by Cox and a quick first out in the top of the ninth, another walk, this one to Derek Lance, started another UT comeback. Maddox then blooped a base hit to center to move Lance to second and Simcox brought him in with his third hit of the day, an RBI single to left. Scott Price would go on to load the bases with a single of his own, but Florida closer Johnny Magliozzi struck out the next two batters to leave the bags juiced.
The Vols would go on to work out of a jam in the bottom of the ninth as the Gators threatened to end the game in regulation when they put runners on the corners with just one out. Trevor Bettencourt escaped unscathed, however, as he got a hard-hit groundball to first which allowed Price to look the runner back to third before getting the force out at second. Bettencourt then struck out Richie Martin to send the game to extra innings.
The game started with five scoreless innings, but it looked like Tennessee was going to strike early as Maddox and Simcox led the game off with a single and double, respectively, in the top of the first. Florida starter Jonathon Crawford had other ideas, however, and proceeded to strike out the next three batters to put a critical zero up on the scoreboard.
Williams returned the favor in the home half of the first inning though, as the first two Gators reached before a strikeout and a 4-6-3 double play brought the frame to a close.
The Big Orange would not get another hit until the eighth but that didn’t stop them from putting runners on base as it took advantage of three walks, including an intentional free pass to Maddox, to load the bases and knock Crawford out of the game in the top of the fifth. Florida reliever Daniel Gibson would come on to get the final out of the frame, however, as the Vols left the bases loaded for the first of three times on Saturday evening.
Florida would score once in both the sixth and seventh innings to take a 2-0 lead before the late comeback by the Orange and White. Taylor Gushue and Harrison Bader each knocked in runs for the Gators.
Tennessee will look to leave Gainesville with at least one win when it sends senior right-hander Zack Godley (3-5, 2.99) to the mound for the series finale at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Florida will counter with sophomore southpaw Bobby Poyner (2-0, 3.94).