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UF Baseball: Florida Falls Short in First Game Against Tennessee

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY MORGAN PERRY

The twelfth-ranked Florida baseball team dropped the opening game in a three-day series against No. 6 Tennessee, 6-4, at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Tennessee (26-5, 8-2 SEC) took the early lead in the third inning when Logan Steenstra, the Volunteers shortstop who was hitting .357 heading into today’s matchup, doubled into right field. One batter later, Liam Spence, who led the SEC in hits alongside Jacob Young coming into today’s game, singled up the middle to bring Steenstra home and record the first run of the game for either squad.

The Gators (20-10, 5-5 SEC) were quick to strike back, hammering back-to-back home runs courtesy of Nathan Hickey and Kirby McMullen to record two runs and claim the lead.

Tennessee wouldn’t stay down for long. The Volunteers recorded a single, strikeout, single, and strikeout in that order before Evan Russell stepped up to the plate and delivered a double, adding two more runs on the board for the home team.

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Tennessee tacked on another run in the fifth inning before the Gators’ bats came alive again in the top of the seventh.

Jud Fabian sparked the inning, recording a first-pitch home run. Jordan Butler reached on a fielding error by the second baseman, and Kris Armstrong joined the party with a single through the right side, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Freshman Colby Halter stepped up to the plate and delivered a single through the left side, bringing Butler home and advancing Armstrong one base.

The inning ended there for the Gators after a strikeout and line-drive double-play swung the momentum back to Tennessee.

The Volunteers tacked on a final run in the bottom of the eighth on a solo homerun to seal the game.

Florida will return to the ballpark looking to claim a victory and keep its series hopes alive tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET. The game will air on the SEC Network.

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

On Tennessee and the game overall…
“I think four of their six runs were with two outs. They did a nice job offensively extending innings. We hit a couple home runs off of fastballs, and I think offensively, we didn’t make an adjustment quick enough because they spun the ball for three innings. We didn’t make the adjustment offensively. Honestly, we just need to do a little bit better job on the mound. I think we had a 25-pitch first inning, and nine of the first 10 hitters hit with two strikes. We talk about being a little bit more aggressive, especially being on the road. It was a tough loss, but we have to obviously come back tomorrow.”