UF baseball team clinches outright SEC title

Florida freshman A.J. Puk earned his fifth win of the season after surrendering just one run in five innings. (Erin Nelson/Halifax Media Services/FILE)

Published: Friday, May 16, 2014 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 16, 2014 at 10:44 p.m.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Florida secured the outright SEC Championship and clinched its weekend series with a 4-2 win over Tennessee on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Holding a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning, the No. 13 Gators (37-18, 21-8 SEC) received a two-run, pinch-hit single by junior Josh Tobias with the bases loaded and two down to provide some breathing room. The Vols (30-22, 11-18) trimmed the deficit to 4-2 later in the inning, but freshman Kirby Snead pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many nights.

“We didn't want to share the title with anyone and the kids can now say that they are outright SEC champions,” Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said.

Freshman A.J. Puk (5-2) pitched five innings of one-run ball to earn his fourth SEC win, while junior Taylor Gushue was 3-for-4 with two doubles.

“A.J. gave us a great start — his fastball had a lot of life tonight and I love to see the progress of him going a career-best five innings,” O'Sullivan said.

The Gators have captured their last six series against Tennessee and extended their road winning streak to eight games, second-longest in school history (record of nine set in 1922).

Gushue plated junior Casey Turgeon with a two-out double in the first inning to open the scoring against senior Nick Williams (5-5). It was Gushue's team-leading 14th double and 43rd RBI.

Senior Taylor Smart (2-for-4) tied the game for the Vols with a leadoff homer in the second that hit the left-field foul pole.

The Gators seized a 2-1 advantage in the sixth on an RBI grounder by junior Zack Powers that brought sophomore Harrison Bader home.

UF improved to 9-5 in league road games after going 12-3 at McKethan Stadium.

The Gators and Vols will meet in the finale of the series today at 1 p.m. The contest will be carried on both Cox Sports Television (Cox Channel 259) and AM-850.

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