GAINESVILLE, Fla. (utsports.com) -- The Florida pitching staff held the Tennessee offense in check and its offense put the game away late for the second straight day as the Gators claimed the series finale, 9-1, on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.
“We just couldn’t get that one hit,” UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. “Again, it was a good game. Human tendency is to get frustrated. We just have to fix some things. Our bullpen needs work and you can’t go 2-for-19 with runners on. We had multiple opportunities just to get a run in. Even if it wasn’t a hit, just to move runners, but we didn’t do that. That’s a little frustrating because we were doing that earlier in the year. When you are kind of in a funk, everything just seems to happen at the same time.”
Tennessee finished the game 2-for-19 with runners on, 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. Florida, meanwhile, had eight hits in 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position. With the loss, the Vols fall to 19-9 overall and 2-7 in Southeastern Conference play. The third-ranked Gators are now 25-5, including a 7-2 mark in league action.
Hitting out of the leadoff spot, freshman Andrew Toles went 2-for-4 with a single and a double for the Big Orange. Sophomore Chris Fritts walked twice and scored the only UT run of the day on a pinch-hit RBI single by Tyler Horne in the ninth. Sophomore Charley Thurber and senior Josh Liles had doubles as well.
Junior Matt Ramsey made his first collegiate start for Tennessee, suffering his first loss of the year after allowing one run on one hit and three walks in two innings of work. He also struck out one. Freshman Karsten Whitson improved to 4-0 for Florida with six strikeouts, three walks and five hits in five scoreless innings.
Tennessee threatened early in the contest, using three walks from Whitson to load the bases with two outs in the top of the second. A foul pop-up behind the plate, however, ended that frame without a runner crossing the plate.
Florida struck first in the home half of the second as Ramsey walked two hitters and yielded a single to load the bases with one out. Although he walked in the first run of the game, Ramsey kept the damage to a minimum with a strikeout and a fly out to left.
After three scoreless innings, the Vols had a prime opportunity to get on the board in the top of the sixth after a swinging bunt single by Matt Duffy and a line-drive double to right by Thurber put runners on second and third with nobody out.
After a hard-hit groundout for the first out, Ramsey hit a chopper out in front of the plate that the Gator pitcher fielded and tossed to the plate in time to get Duffy on a close play at home. Fritts followed with a sharp shot to center, but it was tracked down for the final out. Florida increased its lead to four with a three-run stanza in the bottom of the inning, scoring on an RBI double by Preston Tucker, a throwing error and a sacrifice fly by Nolan Fontana.
UT had another scoring chance in the seventh when Josh Liles dropped a double down the right-field line to lead off the frame. Florida called upon relief pitcher Nick Maronde to get out of the jam, however, and he did just that with a strikeout, groundout to short and long fly ball to right-center.
The Gators put the game out of reach with five runs in the bottom of the seventh before Tennessee finally got on the board in the top of the ninth on Horne’s two-out, pinch-hit RBI single to right.
The Vols will look to get back into the win column on Tuesday when Presbyterian makes the trek to Rocky Top for a 6 p.m. showdown. UT will then host No. 3 South Carolina for a three-game set starting with the first ESPNU Thursday Night SEC Game of the Week at 7:30 p.m. on April 7.
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Tennessee falls to 19-9 overall and 2-7 in SEC play…Tennessee is now 75-138 all-time against the Gators…The Vols had their highest hit total of the weekend with seven, including three doubles…UT drew four walks after claiming just one free pass in the first two games of the series…The Vols were 2-for-19 with runners on base and 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position…UT left 10 runners on base…The Orange and White was held without a stolen base for the third straight day and just the ninth time this season…Tennessee had not lost back-to-back games until this weekend…Official game time was two hours, 54 minutes.
Hitting from the leadoff spot for the fifth time this season, Andrew Toles recorded his 12 multi-hit contest of the season with a double and a single…His double in the fifth was his eighth of the year, but first since March 11 against Manhattan…Matt Ramsey made the first start of his collegiate career…Charley Thurber and Josh Liles also had doubles in the contest…Chris Fritts walked twice and scored the Vols’ only run of the day…Tyler Horne picked up his first pinch-hit of the season, knocking in Fritts with a two-out single in the ninth.