Gators beat Vols in 11 innings for share of SEC title
Published: Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 11:53 p.m.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Florida clinched at least a share of its 13th Southeastern Conference championship and secured the team’s 22nd Eastern Division title with a 6-5 win in 11 innings Thursday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The No. 8 Gators (36-18, 20-8 SEC) tied the game on a two-out double by sophomore Harrison Bader in the ninth inning.
In the 11th, Bader scored the go-ahead run after stealing second and advancing around the bases on a pair of errors by the Volunteers (30-21, 11-17).
“I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Anytime you win 20 games in the best league in the country, it says a lot about how hard your kids have worked throughout the season.”
Florida needs one more win or a loss by Ole Miss at Texas A&M this weekend to claim the league crown outright.
Tennessee had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out RBI double by freshman Nick Senzel that scored sophomore Christin Stewart (2-for-6), who had singled with two down against UF freshman starter Logan Shore (5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R).
Freshman Peter Alonso (2-for-5) gave the Gators a 3-1 advantage in the second inning with a three-run homer to left field after back-to-back singles by juniors Braden Mattson (1-for-5, two runs) and Zack Powers (2-for-5). It was his fourth big fly of the season.
With Tennessee holding a 5-4 lead in the ninth and two down, Florida tied the game on an RBI double to right field by Bader (3-for-5) that brought junior Casey Turgeon (2-for-6) home.
In the 11th, Bader was successful on his third theft of the game and the relay throw went into center field, where it was misplayed, enabling him to score the winning run.
Freshman Kirby Snead recorded the final three outs to collect his first save and preserve the win for junior Ryan Harris (3-1).
“Logan (Shore) gave us another solid start," Sullivan said. "(Bobby) Poyner came in and got some really big outs to keep us in the game, and you can’t say enough about Kirby Snead. He’s a freshman that has been doing a great job for us, and he had to face the top of the order to close things out.”
The Gators and Vols will meet in Game 2 of the series today at 6 p.m.