No. 1 BaseVols make history, storm back to sweep Gators
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (UT Athletics) – Down to its final strike in the ninth inning, No. 1/1 Tennessee rallied for five late runs to defeat Florida, 6-4, in 11 innings to complete the weekend sweep at Condron Family Ballpark.
True freshman designated hitter Christian Moore was the hero, plating the tying runs with a two-out single in the ninth inning before blasting a two-run homer in the 11th to put the Volunteers ahead 6-4.
Redmond Walsh was rock solid out of the bullpen, pitching three shutout innings of hitless relief to earn the win and improve to 2-0 on the year.
With the win, Tennessee became the first team in SEC history to start conference play 17-1. The only other team to start 16-1 was the 1951 Vols.
The Big Orange (37-3, 17-1 SEC) were held to just one hit entering the ninth inning before cranking out four base knocks to score three runs and tie the game at four. Walsh was able to work out of a couple of jams in the ninth and 10th innings to keep UF off the board before Moore’s go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 11th.
Gators’ starter Brandon Neely was phenomenal in just his third start this season, racking up a career-high eight strikeouts while allowing just one hit in seven innings.
Drew Beam wasn’t quite his normal dominant self but was still solid and battled to keep UT within striking distance. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native, allowed three runs on four hits in four innings before making way for Will Mabrey and the bullpen.
Mabrey and Mark McLaughlin held down the fort to keep the Vols in the game, combining to toss four solid innings of relief, allowing just one unearned run and two hits before Walsh took over.
After not leading once over the first two games, it was the Gators who jumped out to the early lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. UF had just one hit in the inning but the advantage of two walks and a hit batter in the inning to go up 2-0.
Florida (23-17, 6-12 SEC) extended its lead to 3-0 in the fourth with a home run from Jac Caglianone, a solo shot that just cleared the wall in center field.
The Gators scored again in the fifth when Caglianone drove in his second run of the afternoon with a sacrifice fly to deep center field to make it 4-0. Josh Rivera scored on the play after reaching on a bunt single before advancing to third on an errant throw on the play.
The Vols broke up the no-hitter and the shutout in the top of the seventh inning. Drew Gilbert tripled off the top of the wall in right field and came in to score on an RBI groundout by Trey Lipscomb to cut the Florida lead to 4-1.
After a scoreless eighth, Jorel Ortega got the ninth-inning rally started with a solo home run to left-center field to lead off the frame and cut the deficit to two.
Following a back-to-back strikeouts, Lipscomb kept the inning going with a bloop single before Luc Lipcius walked and Evan Russell singled to load the bases. Moore came up with the biggest hit of his young career with a two-run single to score Lipscomb and pinch-runner Seth Stephenson to tie the game at four.
Florida threatened in the ninth, getting the winning run to third with only one out, but the veteran Walsh got a strikeout and a fly out to left field to escape the jam and send the game to extras.
In the 11th, Russell singled up the middle with two outs to set up Moore’s eventual game-winning two-run blast to left-center. Walsh set the Gators down in order in the bottom of the inning to slam the door and secure the sweep.
UP NEXT: The Vols return home for a five-game homestand starting with a midweek contest against Xavier on Tuesday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be streamed digitally on SEC Network+ and the ESPN app.
VOLS CLEANING CREW IS BACK IN BUSINESS: With Sunday’s thrilling come-from-behind victory, Tennessee set a new program record for series sweeps in a season, recording their eighth of the year. The previous record was seven, set by the 1994 SEC Championship team.
This weekend’s sweep was UT’s first over the Gators in Gainesville since 2001 and just their third on the road at Florida in program history (2022, 2001, 1971).
BULLPEN CLUTCH AGAIN: The Vols’ bullpen came up huge once again, holding Florida to just one unearned run while allowing just two hits over the final seven innings of the game.