The Florida baseball team evened the series against Tennessee with a 8-3 victory Saturday night in Gainesville. The Gators move to 17-3 (1-1) on the season and the Volunteers fall to 8-7 (1-1).
Unlike on Friday when Florida trailed early, the Gators this time jumped out in front in the first inning.
Richie Martin singled and went all the way to third on an outfield error. Harrison Bader hit a sacrifice fly to plate Martin. Josh Tobias singled and later scored on an RBI single from JJ Schwarz who extended his hitting streak to eight games.
Sophomore AJ Puk was on the mound for the Gators and was lights out the first four innings. He struck out six of his first seven batters, including striking the side out in the third.
But in the fifth inning, the Vols tied the score when catcher David Houser hit a two-run double.
Puk pitched five innings giving up two runs on two hits, and had a career high eight strikeouts after leaving the game after cramping up. Puk says he was just able to hit his spots.
“I wasn’t thinking about it, but that’s how it went tonight. I was able to hit my spots early on and get ahead of hitters. Then I was able to finish them off.”
UF would regain the lead in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single from Martin and a sacrifice fly from Tobias, giving the Gators a 4-2 lead.
The next inning Florida added two more runs on milestones for two players. Sophomore Buddy Reed recorded his first career triple and then freshman Mike Rivera hit his first career home run to put the Gators up 6-2.
Tennessee added another run in the eighth inning off Bobby Poyner, who came in to relieve Puk. The Gators would answer in the bottom of the inning with two more runs on a two-run single by Dalton Guthrie.
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan says Sunday’s final game of the series will be a tough one.
“Tomorrow (Sunday) is going to be a very difficult game. Tennessee is playing at a high level right now. I like their team, they are physical, they’ve got pitching, and they’ve got plenty of bullpen ready for tomorrow like we do. Tomorrow will be a very difficult game and we will see what happens.”
Sophomore Dane Dunning gets the start for the Gators Sunday on the mound. Tune into ESPN 850 WRUF at 12:55 pm for all your live coverage.