UF BASEBALL

SEC race tightens as Vols take series

Tennessee's 7-2 win trims UF's lead in the SEC East to 1 1/2 games.


Tennessee hitter J.P. Arencibia strikes out in the top of the ninth inning.

Morgan Petroski/Special to The Sun
Published: Monday, May 2, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 1, 2005 at 9:26 p.m.
Florida received the kind of starting performance on the mound from Bryan Ball the Gators hoped for on Sunday. The problem was that Tennessee received one even better.
Right-hander Craig Cobb, who entered the game with a 7.04 ERA in SEC games, pitched a complete game, allowing only six Florida hits as the Vols took the rubber game of an important conference series, 7-2, in front of 1,632 at McKethan Stadium.
"He was masterful with his change-up," Florida coach Pat McMahon said. "He did a great job. We ran into a hot pitcher."
Florida dropped to 31-12, 14-7 in the SEC while Tennessee is now 32-14 and 12-8.
Cobb pitched eight scoreless innings - allowing only a two-run homer in the sixth to Brian Leclerc - one day after the Gators put up 18 runs against the Vols.
"Coach (Rod) Delmonico was kidding me before the game that they used up all of their offense," Cobb said. "It was a great motivation."
Sunday was the first time since the opening weekend against Mississippi that Florida lost a series, and it pulled Tennessee within 1 games in the SEC East with nine conference games to play.
Ball, making his second start since missing two weekends with a tired arm, shut Tennessee out until the fifth, twice escaping second and third situations with one out. In his first start back, he lasted only into the second inning against Auburn, walking four batters. On Sunday, he walked only one in 5 innings.
"Last weekend was so frustrating," Ball said. "I felt like I just had to find my delivery again."
Tennessee took the lead in the fifth when Josh Alley doubled home a run and scored on J.P. Arencibia's sharp single to right.
In the sixth, Ball gave way the Stephen Locke with a runner on second and one out. Although Locke wasn't hit hard, he failed to record an out.
Locke, who had walked only six batters in 44 innings entering the game, walked the first batter he faced. He allowed a bloop single by Michael Rivera to load the bases and another by Alex Suarez to plate two runs. Alley's drag bunt single made it 5-0 and Locke gave way to Connor Falkenbach.
Falkenbach, whose third relief performance of the weekend tied him with John Pricher for the most appearances on the mound (104) in UF history, needed only two pitches to induce a double play grounder from Eli Iorg.
In the bottom of the inning, Leclerc gave the Gators a lift with a two-out, two-run homer off the top the scoreboard in right field.
But while Florida's defense and pitching kept them in the game until the ninth, the offense could muster little against Cobb.
"Their guy pitched his butt off the whole game," Leclerc said.
Tennessee finally padded its lead when Eric King doubled in two runs with two out in the ninth off Steven Porter, the sixth pitcher used by McMahon in the game.
Tennessee finished the series with 42 hits.
Florida next faces another rubber game - the conclusion of its three-game series with Florida State - Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at home.
You can reach Pat Dooley by e-mail at dooleyp@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5053.

#18 TENNESSEE 7 #4 FLORIDA 2 Up next FLORIDA STATE at FLORIDA

  • WHEN: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
  • WHERE: McKethan Stadium
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