LSU at Tennessee, Game 3

Bottom 9th: Nick Senzel grounded to third, Vincent Jackson grounded to first, and Benito Santiago struck out to give LSU a 10-7 win.

Top 9th: Chris Reid drew a two out walk and Bryce Jordan singled off UT reliever Daniel Vasquez, but both were stranded. LSU leads 10-7 going into the bottom of the ninth.

Bottom 8th: Derek Lance drew a two-out walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a flared single to left by Brodie Leftridge. Tennessee cuts the deficit to 10-7.

Top 8th: Hunter Martin walked the first batter he faced in the eighth, Chris Reid. Reid moved to second on a bunt and to third on a groundout. Andy Cox came on to face the left-handed Greg Deichmann, but Deichmann singled past diving second baseman Jordan Rodgers to score Reid to give LSU a 7-6 lead. Cox then walked COle Freeman and gave up a three-run home run to Antoine Duplantis to make it 10-6 LSU.

Bottom 7th: Nick Senzel walked, Vincent Jackson doubled into the right center field gap and Benito Santiago tripled into the left center field gap to score both to tie the game 6-6.

Top 7th: LSU’s Kramer Robertson singled but Jordan Romero grounded to a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. LSU leads 6-4.

Bottom 6th: Vincent Jackson and Benito Santiago drew walks and Tyler Schultz drove in both by lining a double into the left field corner. Tennessee cuts the deficit to 6-4.

Top 6th: Bryce Jordan homered, Beau Jordan was hit by a pitch and Greg Deichmann tripled off the center field wall to give LSU a 6-2 lead in the sixth.

Bottom 5th: Nick Senzel reached on an error but was thrown out trying to steal second to end the fifth. LSU leads 4-2.

Top 5th: Aaron Soto retired the side in order in the fifth. LSU still leads 4-2.

Bottom 4th: Tyler Schultz reached on an infield single, but LSU reliever Austin Bain retired the other three batters he faced. LSU leads 4-2.

Top 4th: Aaron Soto walked Cole Freeman, but Derek Lance turned a 3-6 double play to get the Vols out of the fourth. LSU leads 4-2.

Bottom 3rd: Chris Hall walked, but Nick Senzel bounced into a 6-3 double play to erase him. Vincent Jackson walked but Benito Santiago bounced back to the mound to end the inning. LSU leads 4-2.

Top 3rd: LSU’s Kramer Robertson doubled to right center to lead off the third and later scored on an RBI single by Bryce Jordan. LSU goes up 4-2.

Bottom 2nd: Max Bartlett drove in a run with a single through the left side and Derek Lance drove in another with an RBI groundout to cut LSU’s lead to 3-2.

Top 2nd: Bryce Jordan reached on a one-out walk, and his twin brother Beau got on when UT third baseman Nick Senzel botched his ground ball. Aaron Soto struck out Greg Deichmann, but Cole Freeman tripled into the left center field gap to score both Jordans. Antoine Duplantis then lined a single down the left field line to score Freeman to make it 3-0 LSU.

Bottom 1st: Nick Senzel reached with a two-out double, but Vincent Jackson popped up to end the inning. Scoreless after one.

Top 1st: Aaron Soto gave up a single to Jake Fraley but retired the other three batters he faced. Scoreless after a half.  Continue reading

LSU uses six-run first to roll over UT 11-3

WHAT HAPPENED: LSU scored six runs in the first in an 11-3 rout of Tennessee in front of 2,297 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Saturday.

The No. 13 Tigers improved to 35-16, 16-10 in the SEC. The Vols fell to 26-25, 7-19.

Tennessee senior left-hander Zach Warren allowed six runs and recorded just one out before he was removed. He walked LSU freshman Antoine Duplantis on four pitches to start the game before walking junior Jake Fraley. Junior shortstop Kramer Robertson, junior catcher Jordan Romero and freshman third baseman Chris Reid followed with RBI singles to make it 3-0.

Sophomore designated hitter Bryce Jordan laid down a bunt to move Romero to third and Reid to second, then jordan’s twin brother and sophomore left fielder Bryce Jordan ripped a double into the left center field gap to make it 5-0. Sophomore first baseman Greg Deichmann then singled up the middle to make it 6-0, which ended Warren’s day. Continue reading

LSU at Tennessee, Game 2

Bottom 9th: LSU’s Russell Reynolds retired the side in order in the ninth. LSU wins 11-3.

Top 9th: UT’s Jon Lipinski retired the side in order. 11-3 going into the ninth.

Bottom 8th:Benito Santiago tripled to the left center field gap to start the eighth and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Derek Lance to make it 11-3. The Vols later loaded the bases, but Nick Senzel lined out to left to end the inning.

TOp 8th: Eric Freeman retired the side in order. LSU leads 11-2.

Bottom 7th: Nick Senzel reached with a one out single but was stranded thanks to flyouts by Vincent Jackson and Jordan Rodgers. LSU leads 11-2.

Top 7th: Greg Deichmann walked, moved to second on a single by Cole Freeman and eventually scored on a throwing error by UT first baseman Derek Lance. LSU leads 11-2.

Bottom 6th: Benito Santiago and Max Bartlett both reached with singles in the sixth, but Derek Lance struck out looking and Brodie Leftridge grounded to short to end the inning. LSU leads 10-2.

Top 6th: Jordan Romero led off the sixth with a single to center and Chris Reid reached on an error, but Nick Senzel turned a 5-3 double play  and then fielded another ground out to end the inning. LSU leads 10-2.

Bottom 5th: Brodie Leftridge reached on an infield single and eventually scored on a wild pitch. LSU leads 10-2.

Top 5th: Greg Deichmann walked, went to second on an infield single by Cole Freeman, took third on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on a sacrifice fly by center fielder Jake Fraley. LSU leads 10-1.

Bottom 4th: Max Bartlett reached on his second infield single of the game, but was stranded when Derek Lance grounded to first. LSU leads 9-1.

Top 4th: Tennessee pitching got through its first scoreless inning. Steven Kane retired the LSU side in order in the fourth. LSU leads 9-1.

Bottom 3rd: Brodie Leftridge doubled down the third base line, moved to third on a deep fly ball by Chris Hall, then scored on an RBI groundout by Nick Senzel to get the Vols on the board. LSU leads 9-1.

Top 3rd: LSU scored two more runs in the third. Antoine Duplantis reached with a two-out single, then scored when UT center fielder Brodie Leftridge misplayed Jake Fraley’s single to center. Fraley took second on that error, went to third on an infield single by Kramer Robertson, then scored on a double steal to make it 9-0 LSU.

Bottom 2nd: Max Bartlett reached with a two-out infield single, but Poche’ retired the other three hitters. LSU leads 2-0.

Top 2nd: Jordan Romero led off the second by crushing a 1-2 pitch over the left field wall. 7-0 LSU.

Bottom 1st: Nick Senzel singled and Vincent Jackson walked with two outs, but Jordan Rodgers lined out to right to strand them. LSU leads 6-0.

Top 1st: Tennessee ace Zach Warren retired just one batter and gave up six runs before his day was over. He walked the first two batters he faced, then gave up three straight RBI singles to Kramer Robertson, Jordan Romero and Chris Reid. After a sacrifice bunt by Bryce Jordan, Beau Jordan doubled into the left center field gap to make it 5-0 and Greg Deichmann singled up the middle to make it 6-0. Reliever Steven Kane came in and prevented any further damage, He gave up a single and a walk to load the bases, but stranded the runners. LSU leads 6-0.

Game 2 of the LSU-Tennessee series starts at 1 p.m. Lineups follow.

LSU (34-16, 15-10 SEC)

  1. Antoine Duplantis rf (.317, 35 runs, 1 HR, 29 RBI)
  2. Jake Fraley cf (.327, 48 runs, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 22 SB)
  3. Kramer Robertson ss (.316, 47 runs, 1 HR, 30 RBI)
  4. Jordan Romero c (.325, 8 HR, 37 RBI)
  5. Chris Reid, 3b (.307, 1 HR, 12 RBI)
  6. Bryce Jordan, dh (.312, 32 runs, 4 HR, 26 RBI)
  7. Beau Jordan, lf (.316, 4 HR, 35 RBI0
  8. Greg Deichmann, 1b (.256, 34 runs, 6 HR, 33 RBI)
  9. Cole Freeman, 2b (.315, 34 runs, 1 HR, 19 RBI)

P-Jared Poche’, lhp (5-4, 4.05 ERA, 57 K’s in 66 2/3 IP)

Tennessee (26-24, 7-18 SEC)

  1. Brodie Leftridge cf (.258, 11 runs, 3 RBI)
  2. Chris Hall, rf (.315, 41 runs, 20 RBI)
  3. Nick Senzel 3b (.339, 51 runs, 8 HR, 53 RBI)
  4. Vincent Jackson lf (.348, 38 runs, 7 HR, 50 RBI)
  5. Jordan Rodgers, 2b (.289, 33 runs, 4 HR, 53 RBI)
  6. Benito Santiago c (.320, 29 runs, 1 HR, 16 RBI)
  7. Matt Waldren, dh (.229, 6 RBI)
  8. Max Bartlett, ss (.203, 18 runs, 8 RBI)
  9. Derek Lance, 1b (.341, 27 runs, 20 RBI)

P-Zach Warren, lhp (5-4, 3.15 ERA, 56 K’s in 71 1/3 IP)

LSU holds off Tennessee 2-1 in series opener

WHAT HAPPENED: LSU junior shortstop Kramer Robertson’s eighth-inning RBI single provided the difference in a 2-1 win for the No. 13 TIgers over Tennessee in front of 2,349 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Friday night.

The Tigers improved to 34-16, 15-10 in the SEC. The Vols fell to 26-24, 7-18.

Tennessee had a chance to get to LSU sophomore ace Alex Lange in the first inning. UT sophomore Benito Santiago reached on an error, senior Chris Hall was hit by a pitch and junior Nick Enzel drew a walk before Lange got an out. However, UT senior Vincent Jackson hit a hard liner to right that LSU freshman right filder Antoine Duplantis dove to catch. Santiago had hedged toward home and failed to tag, so he had to go back. Duplantis threw to first, and umpires ruled that Senzel had been doubled off, though replay appeared to show that was not the case. UT’s Jordan Rodgers then drew a walk, but senior Derek Lance struck out to end the inning without a run.

The Vols took the lead in the second when a double by sophomore Brodie Leftridge scored senior Tyler Schultz from second base. However, LSU tied the game in the top of the third on a solo home run by junior Cole Freeman.

Lange and Tennessee freshman right-hander Will Neely engaged  in a pitching duel from there, and Neely came out in the seventh with the game still tied 1-1. However, senior left-hander Andy Cox hit Freeman, the first batter he faced. He retired the next two, but surrendered the single to Robertson that served as the difference. The Vols stranded runners on second and third in the eighth against Lange, and LSU junior Hunter Newman pitched a perfect ninth to get the save.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Lange struggled with control, walking six batters, and Tennessee made him labor with 121 pitches, just 69 of which were strikes. However, he also used his low 90s fastball and excellent curveball to strike out seven batters and allowed just four hits.

Freeman scored both of the Tigers’ runs and reached on all three of his plate appearances, also drawing a walk in the fifth. Robertson obviously had the key RBI.

Neely pitched seven innings and allowed just five hits, walking two batters and striking out two. He was efficient, throwing just 93 pitches with 59 of them going for strikes.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: The Vols missed opportunities were back breakers. Had Jackson’s fly ball fallen in the first, the Vols could have jumped on Lange early, They also left runners in scoring position in the second, third, and eighth, finishing with eight men left on base including six in scoring position. With the way Neely pitched, it wouldn’t have taken them much to win the game.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Serrano said he stills feels confident that the Vols can win the series, and he has reason to. The Tigers don’t have any lights out pitchers after Lange, and Serrano set up his rotation so he can still throw sophomore left-handers Zach Warren and Aaron Soto. However, Friday’s game still looks like a wasted opportunity considering how good of an outing the Vols got from their freshman right hander who was starting just his fourth game as a collegian. The Vols remain in last place, but Georgia, Missouri, Auburn and Arkansas are all in striking distance, so they still have a very good chance to make the SEC tournament if they make something happen in this series. They have already missed one opportunity to dig themselves out of the cellar this week, however.

LSU at Tennessee, Game 1

Bottom 9th: Hunter Newman pitched a perfect ninth to get the save for LSU in a 2-1 win.

Top 9th: Andy Cox got an out and gave up a single, but reliever Teven Kane got Beau Jordan to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. LSU leads 2-1 going into the ninth.

Bottom 8th: Chris Hall led off the eighth with a single and went to second when Nick Senzel struck out on a wild pitch. Vincent Jackson drew a walk, and the two runners moved to second and third on a grounder to third by Jordan Rodgers. However, Derek Lance also grounded to third to strand the runners.

Top 8th: Tennessee reliever Andy Cox hit Cole Freeman, the first batter he faced. Freeman moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on a two-out single to right by Kramer Robertson to make it 2-1 LSU.

Bottom 7th: Alex Lange retired the side in order for the first time. Game tied 1-1.

Top 7th: Will Neely gave up a one-out single, but retired the other three batters he faced. Game tied 1-1.

Bottom 6th: Jordan Rodgers reached on a one-out single but was thrown out stealing. Derek Lance drew a walk, but was stranded when Tyler Schultz struck out swinging. Game tied 1-1.

Top 6th: Will Neely retired the side in order on 10 pitches. Game tied 1-1.

Bottom 5th: Nick Senzel drew a two-out walk but was caught stealing for just the second time this season. Game tied 1-1.

Top 5th: Cole Freeman walked, but was thrown out at second by Tyler Schultz. Will Neely retired the other two batters he faced. Game tied 1-1.

Bottom 4th: Tyler Schultz was hit by a pitch to start the fourth, but Max Bartlett grounded to a 4-3 double play. Leftridge flied to to right to end it.

Top 4th: LSU’s Jordan Romero and Chris Reid reached with back-to-back singles and moved to third and second respectively on a wild pitch. However, Bryce Jordan grounded to third and UT’s Nick Senzel threw Romero out at home. Beau Jordan then hit a flare to short that Max Bartlett went out in the outfield to get. Game tied 1-1.

Bottom 3rd: Vincent Jackson reached on a one-out walk, but was stranded when Derek Lance struck out looking. Game tied 1-1.

Top 3rd: LSU’s Cole Freeman hit a 1-1 fastball from Neely over the left field wall to tie the game 1-1.

Bottom 2nd: Tyler Schultz walked, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Max Bartlett, then scored on a double to right center field by Brodie Leftridge. Tennessee leads 1-0.

Top 2nd: LSU’s Chris Reid drew a one-out walk, but Will Neely retired the other three hitters. Still scoreless.

Bottom 1st: Benito Santiago reached on an error, Chris Hall was hit by a pitched and Nick Senzel loaded the bases with no outs, but Vincent Jackson hit a hard liner to right, Santiago paused at third, and Senzel was doubled off at first. Jordan Rodgers drew a walk to re-load the bases, but Derek Lance struck out to end the inning. 0-0 after one.

Top 1st: Will Neely retired the LSU side in order on eight pitches. Scoreless after a half. Continue reading

Tennessee holds on to beat Belmont 5-3

WHAT HAPPENED: On a night when it shook up the lineup to get experience for young players and threw five pitchers, Tennessee held on to beat Belmont 5-3 in a mid-week non-conference game in front of 1,221 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Vols improved to 26-23. Belmont fell to 28-21.

Belmont took a 1-0 lead in the first on a solo home run by junior Brennan Washington but Tennessee took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the inning. Sophomore center fielder Brodie Leftridge was hit by a pitch, then went from first to third when Belmont’s Casey Queener missed wide with an attempted pickoff. Senior right fielder Chris Hall lined a single to right to drive him in. Shortstop Nick Senzel singled to right to send Hall to third, and senior left fielder Vincent Jackson lined a single to left to bring in Hall.  Continue reading

Florida downs Tennessee 9-3 to take series

WHAT HAPPENED: Tennessee committed five errors and Florida’s Alex Faedo struck out 10 hitters to lead the Gators to a 9-3 win over the Vols in front of 2,458 on Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The No. 1 Gators improved to 40-8, 16-7 in the SEC. The Vols fell to 25-23, 7-17 and remain in a tie for last place in the SEC.

Florida took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by catcher Mike Rivera. The Vols tied the game in the bottom of the third when sophomore center fielder Brodie Leftridge tripled and then scored on a wild pitch.

In the fourth, Florida took the lead for good on an RBI groundout by Rivera and a two-run double by shortstop Dalton Guthrie. Tennessee coach Dave Serrano was ejected during the inning for arguing about a call at first base in which the first base umpire said first baseman Jordan Rodgers jumped off the bag to field a throw, allowing Deacon Liput to reach.

In the sixth, Rivera hit a two-run home run over the left field wall. In the eighth, after an error by UT second baseman Derek Lance allowed the inning to continue. right fielder Nick Horvath hit a three- run home run to make it 9-1.

Lance singled and Leftridge doubled to start the eighth. Hall brought in Lance with an RBI groundout, and Leftridge scored on a double by junior shortstop Nick Senzel to make it 9-3, but did not dig any further into Florida’s advantage.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Faedo allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 10, throwing 71 of his 101 pitches for strikes.

Rivera went 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and four RBI. Horvath scored two runs and hit his three-run home run. Guthrie had two hits, including his two-run double. Maldonado had two hits and two runs.

Tennessee’s Leftridge had a double and triple and two runs. Hall had two hits and an RBI and Senzel drove a run in.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Faedo made the Vols look silly at times with a fastball that touched 92 miles per hour, an excellent change-up and a tight curveball to keep Tennessee from getting much offensively. The Vols defensive miscues made sure they couldn’t keep the game close.

Lance dropped a flip from Senzel in the second inning that would have retired Florida first baseman Peter Alonso. Instead, Alonso later scored on Rivera’s single.

In the fourth, Hunter Martin’s throw that pulled Rodgers off the bag allowed Florida’s Deacon Liput to reach. Liput eventually scored on Guthrie’s double. Lance’s eighth-inning error would have kept Horvath’s three-run home run from happening. All told, there were six unearned runs, which matched Florida’s margin of victory.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Taking one out of three from Florida in the series might have been more than many expected for Tennessee, but the Vols failed to capitalize on momentum from Saturday night, and they will remain in a tie for last place heading into next weekend’s home series against LSU.

Florida at Tennessee, Game 3

Bottom 9th: Derek Lance and Chris Hall reached with singles, but Shaun Anderson retired the rest of the batters he faced to give Florida a 9-3 win.

Top 9th: Buddy Reed drew a two-out walk, stole second and took third on a throwing error but was stranded. Florida is up 9-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

Bottom 8th: Derek Lance singled to start the eighth and Brodie Leftridge doubled down the third base line to send Lance to third. Hall brought in Lance with a groundout to second, and Nick Senzel brought in leftridge with a double to the left center field gap. Vincent Jackson and Benito Santiago drew walks to load the bases, but Tyler Schultz hit into a force play at short to end the inning. Florida leads 9-3.

Top 8th: Nelson Maldonado singled, Mike Rivera reached on an error, and Nick Horvath crushed a 2-0 pitch over the right field wall for a two-run home run that gave Florida a 9-1 lead.

Bottom 7th: Alex Faedo struck out Benito Santiago to pick up his 10th K and retired the Tennessee side in order. Florida leads 6-1.

Top 7th: Florida’s J.J. Schwartz reached with a single, but Tennessee got a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning. Florida leads 6-1.

Bottom 6th: Chris Hall singled and took second on a passed ball, but Nick Senzel flied to deep right, Vincent Jackson lined to left and Jordan Rodgers struck out swinging at a breaking ball. Florida leads 6-1.

Top 6th: After a one-out walk to Deacon Liput, Florida’s Mike Rivera crushed a 3-1 pitch from Alex Harper-Cook over the left field porch for  atwo-run homer to make it 6-1 Florida.

Bottom 5th: Alex Faedo retired the side in order, and Dalton Guthrie made a spectacular play at shortstop to rob Brodie Leftridge of a hit. Florida leads 4-1.

Top 5th: Alex Harper-Cook retired the Florida side in order, recording a strikeout to start it. Nick Senzel made a slick play at short to rob Buddy Reed of a hit up the middle. Florida leads 4-1.

Bottom 4th: Alex Faedo gave up a single to Benito Santiago, but retired the other two batters he faced, striking out two of them to hit eight for the game. Florida leads 4-1.

Top 4th: Nelson Maldonado reached on a one-out single to left, then took second when Tennessee’s Vincent Jackson booted the ball and allowed it to go to the wall, Deacon Liput hit a chopper to the left side. UT pitcher Hunter Martin fielded and threw high of the bag, taking Jordan Rodgers off of it. After an argument over the call, UT coach Dave Serrano was ejected. The two runners moved up on a pitch in the dirt, then scored on a ground-rule double by Dalton Guthrie.

Bottom 3rd: Brodie Leftridge ripped a one-out triple to the left center field gap and then scored on a wild pitch to tie the game 1-1. Chris Hall was hit by a pitch, but eventually caught stealing to end the inning.

Top 3rd: Hunter Martin retired the side on 11 pitches. Florida leads 1-0.

Bottom 2nd: UT’s Jordan Rodgers and Benito Santiago had back-to-back singles with one out in the second, but Alex Faedo struck out the other three batters he faced. Florida leads 1-0.

Top 2nd: Florida’s Pete Alonso singled to lead off the second and moved to second on an error at second base. Nelson Maldonado hit a grounder to short, which UT’s Nick Senzel fielded and flipped to second baseman Derek Lance, but Lance tried to barehand the throw and dropped it. Alonso was initially ruled out, but the call was changed. UT’s Hunter Martin then walked Deacon Liput to load the bases, and Mike Rivera singled up the middle to bring in Alonso. Eddy Demarius grounded to first, and Jordan Rodgers got Maldonado out at home, then Brett Langhrone fielded a chopper and got the force at second base to end the inning. Florida leads 1-0.

Bottom 1st: Florida’s Alex Faedo threw his first eight pitches for strikes, getting Chris Hall to strike out looking. Nelson Maldonado made a sliding catch in foul territory in left field to retire Nick Senzel to end the first. Scoreless after 1.

Top 1st: Hunter Martin retired the Florida side in order on 12 pitches. Scoreless after a half.

Game 3 of the UT-Florida series coming up at 2 p.m. Lineups follow

Florida (39-8, 15-7 SEC)

  1. Dalton Guthrie ss (.319, 34 runs, 1 HR, 17 RBI)
  2. Jonathan India, 3b (.307, 29 runs, 3 HR, 29 RBI)
  3. J.J. Schwarz dh (.292, 35 runs, 6 HR, 41 RBI)
  4. Peter Alonso, 1b (.349, 37 runs, 9 HR, 44 RBI)
  5. Buddy Reed, cf (.296, 41 runs, 4 HR, 27 RBI)
  6. Nelson Maldonado, lf (.254, 6 HR, 20 RBI)
  7. Deacon LIput, 2b (.287, 2 HR, 23 RBI)
  8. Mike RIvera, c (.266, 7 HR, 40 RBI)
  9. Eddy Demarius, rf (.000)

P-Alex Faedo, rhp (8-1, 3.32 ERA, 81 K’s in 59 2/3 IP)

Tennessee (25-22, 7-16)

  1. Brodie Leftridge cf (.241, 8 runs, 2 RBI)
  2. Chris Hall rf (.310, 40 runs, 17 RBI)
  3. Nick Senzel ss (.343, 50 runs, 8 HR, 52 RBI)
  4. Vincent Jackson lf (.357, 38 runs, 7 HR, 49 RBI)
  5. Jordan Rodgers, 1b (.286, 33 runs, 4 HR, 53 RBI)
  6. Benito Santiago, c (.324, 29 runs, 1 HR, 15 RBI)
  7. Tyler Schultz, dh (.227, 11 RBI)
  8. Brett Langhorne, 3b (.000)
  9. Derek Lance, 2b (.346, 26 runs, 19 RBI)

P-Hunter Martin, rhp (3-0, 1.50 ERA, 17 K’s in 30 IP)

Vols upset No. 1 Florida, 5-2

WHAT HAPPENED: Thanks to a two-run home run by junior shortstop Nick Senzel, a three-run sixth inning and a spectacular catch by sophomore center fielder Brodie Leftridge, Tennessee held on to defeat No. 1 Florida 5-2 in front of 2,197 on Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Vols improved to 25-22, 7-16 in the SEC. The Gators fell to 39-8, 15-7. It was the first time the Vols beat the nation’s No. 1 team since beating LSU in 2009.

Florida took a 1-0 lead in the first when center fielder Buddy Reed drove in third baseman Johnathan India with an infield single. The Vols took the lead in the third, however, when Senzel crushed a first-pitch fastball from likely No. 1 MLB draft pick A.J. Puk well over the left field wall for a two-run home run.

Florida tied the game in the top of the sixth when center fielder Buddy Reed tripled to left center off Tennessee starter Zach Warren, then scored on a wild pitch by reliever Andy Cox.

The Vols scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, however. Designated hitter Leno Ramirez was hit by a pitch, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Brett Langhorne and scored on a single up the middle by second baseman Derek Lance. Lance scored when Leftridge hit a triple into the right field corner. Leftridge scored on a sacrifice fly to left by senior right fielder Chris Hall.

Florida had a chance to cut in to the lead in the eighth. First baseman Pete Alonso singled with one out and designated hitter Mike Rivera singled to right with two outs. Florida left fielder Nelson Maldonado crushed an 0-1 slider into the left center field gap, but Leftridge broke into a dead sprint on contact and tracked it down to save two runs.

Cox walked the first batter he faced in the ninth, but struck out the second and induced a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Leftridge’s catch was spectacular and game-saver. Both Cox and Senzel called it one of the best catches they’d ever seen. His triple was also critical because it produced insurance runs and showed his growth as a hitter. Leftridge developed a reputation for being a dead pull hitter and for overswinging to try to drive the ball. The triple showed he is learning to shorten his stroke and let the ball get deeper.

Senzel’s two-run home run was a mammoth shot, and the fact that he did it over the likely No. 1 overall pick in the draft makes it even more likely that he will be the first college hitter taken. If not for the trees, the ball would’ve been on Phillip Fulmer Way.

Lance and Hall also went 1-for-3 with a run scored. Sophomore left-hander Zach Warren scattered seven hits and allowed just two runs in 5 1/3 innings, walking one batter and needing just 73 pitches. Cox threw the wild pitch that allowed an inherited runner to score, but he struck out two batters and yielded just two hits and two walks.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: After finding it extremely difficult to get much of anything accomplished against Logan Shore on Friday night, the Vols drove up Puk’s pitch count to get him out of the game quickly. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound left-hander sometimes struggles with control — in part because it’s difficult to coordinate that much body and in part because he struggles to find a release point that leads to strikes against shorter hitters. Puk struck out six batters with a fastball that touched 97 miles per hour and a vicious slider, but he also walked six batters and threw 91 pitches in just 3 1/3 innings. He only allowed three hits, but one was Senzel’s two-run bomb.

Getting Puk out of the game gave the Vols a big boost of confidence, and they used it to jump on reliever Brady Singer in the sixth. The Vols’ left-handers also kept Florida from getting much going, and Tennessee was excellent on defense apart from just Leftridge’s catch. Senzel made several brilliant plays at short that show he has taken to the position well in Max Bartlett’s absence.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: The Vols are still in last place in the SEC, but this was a good beginning to them being able to climb out of the cellar. Defeating the No. 1 team in the country on a day when it threw the No. 1 pitching prospect in college baseball served as a reminder that it is not impossible for them to beat anyone, they just haven’t been consistent enough to get some of the wins they’re capable of.

Getting a win on Sunday will be difficult because the Vols aren’t sure who they’re throwing yet with Aaron Soto suspended, and Will Neely, Warren and Cox having already been used, But they head into Sunday with the possibility of taking a series from the No. 1 team in the country a week after being swept by Missouri, but also two weeks after having taken two of three from a top 10 team in Vanderbilt. That alone should at least keep the Vols locked in heading into next weekend against LSU and in the final regular season series at Georgia.

Florida at Tennessee, Game 2

Top 9th: Andy Cox walked the first batter he faced, but struck out the next one and got a 5-4-3 double play to end the game. Tennessee wins 5-2, defeating No. 1 Florida.

Bottom 8th: Tennessee’s side was retired the order, but the Vols lead 5-2 heading into the ninth.

Top 8th: Florida’s Pete Alonso and Mike Rivera reached with singles, but UT center fielder Brodie Leftridge stole extra bases and at least one run by tracking down a fly ball hit deep into the left center field gap by Nelson Maldonado. Tennessee leads 5-2.

Bottom 7th: Jordan Rodgers reached on an infield single and Leno Ramirez was hit by a pitch but both were stranded when Matt Waldren struck out to end the inning. Tennessee leads 5-2.

Top 7th: Andy Cox issued a two-out walk but retired the other three batters he faced in the seventh. Tennessee leads 5-2.

Bottom 6th: Leno Ramirez was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a bunt from Brett Langhorne and then scored on a single up the middle by Derek Lance, Lance scored when Brodie Leftridge tripled into the right field corner. Leftridge scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris Hall. Tennessee leads 5-2.

Top 6th: Buddy Reed reached on a one-out triple to the left center field gap, which ended Zach Warren’s day. Andy Cox came on in relief for Tennessee and threw a wild pitch that allowed Reed to score. Game tied 2-2.

Bottom 5th: Brady Singer retired Vincent Jackson, Jordan Rodgers and Benito Santiago in order. Tennessee leads 2-1.

Top 5th: Johnathan India reached when Brodie Leftridge dropped a deep fly ball in left center field, but Zach Warren retired the other three batters he faced.

Bottom 4th: A.J. Puk walked three batters with one out, and his day came to a close after his 91st pitch. However, reliever Brady Singer got Nick Senzel to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Tennessee leads 2-1.

Top 4th: Zach Warren gave up a one-out single to Nelson Maldonado, but got Deacon Liput to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Tennessee leads 2-1.

Bottom 3rd: Chris Hall reached with a one-out single, then Nick Senzel crushed a first-pitch fastball from Puk that cleared the left field wall and hit a tree that protects the street from the ballpark. The two-run blast gives Tennessee a 2-1 lead.

Top 3rd: Zach Warren got three fly ball outs to get out of the third inning in eight pitches. Florida leads 1-0.

Bottom 2nd: After needing 36 pitches to get through the first inning, Puk breezed through the second in seven, striking out the first two batters he faced on three pitches each. Florida leads 1-0.

Top 2nd: Nelson Maldonado doubled and Deacon Liput walked to start the second and Right fielder Nick Horvath grounded to short to move them over, but Zach Warren got Dalton Guthrie to ground to third and Johnathan India to fly to right to end the second. 1-0 Florida.

Bottom 1st: Nick Senzel drew a two-out walk and stole second and third base, Vincent Jackson was hit by a pitch and Jordan Rodgers walked, but Benito Santiago struck out looking to end the First. 1-0 Florida. Puk needed 36 pitches to get through the first.

Top 1st: johnathan India reached with a one-out single to right, went to third on a single flared by Peter Alonso to short center, and scored on an infield single by Buddy Reed. Florida leads 1-0.

Tennessee and Florida begin the second game of their series at 4 p.m. Lineups follow.

Florida (39-7, 15-6 SEC.

  1. Dalton Guthrie ss (.326)
  2. Johnathan India 3b (.302)
  3. J.J. Schwarz, c (.299)
  4. Peter Alonso 1b (.345)
  5. Buddy Reed cf (.291)
  6. Mike Rivera dh (.266)
  7. Nelson Maldonado, lf (.246)
  8. Deacon Liput 2b (.291)
  9. Nick Horvath rf (.176)

P-A.J. Puk (2-2, 2.87 ERA)

Tennessee (24-22, 6-16)

  1. Brodie Leftridge cf (.240)
  2. Chris Hall rf (.309)
  3. Nick Senzel ss (.343)
  4. Vincent Jackson lf (.357)
  5. Jordan Rodgers 1b (.285)
  6. Benito Santiago c (.331)
  7. Daniel Neal dh (.222)
  8. Brett Langhorne 3b (.000)
  9. Derek Lance 2b (.346)

P-Zach Warren, lhp (5-4, 3.14 ERA)