Another series, another positive weekend for Florida's surging baseball team.
It didn't come to the most fitting conclusion. Sunday, the Gators fell 4-2 to the Tennessee Volunteers in a game that started promising with a two-run first inning but dragged to conclusion in a manner similar to Florida's early-season struggles.
Aside from the three-hit, two-run first, Tennessee pitcher Zack Godley - the Volunteers' most successful starter - manhandled the Gators' lineup, at one time retiring seven batters in a row and keeping Florida hitters off-balance for much of the afternoon. A pitchers' duel through five, the game fell off its axis for the Gators when the Volunteers opened the sixth with back-to-back doubles.
"The bottom line is Godley threw the ball really well," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "He's their No. 1 guy and he's been doing that to people all year long. He certainly deserves all the credit."
Relievers were not entirely able to clean up what was left by Bobby Poyner, who pitched five innings of two-hit ball to that point, and the Gators went through three of them before the final out.
"I just go out there and compete and try to help the team win," Poyner said. "It wasn't good enough today."
Luckily for the Gators, Sunday was hardly the story of the weekend.
Florida tore through Tennessee Friday night, taking a 7-0 lead by the fifth inning and cruising to a 7-2 final. Catcher Taylor Gushue hit a three-run homer, and Cody Dent was the only member of Florida's starting lineup to not register a hit.
Saturday night was more on the dramatic side. Starting pitchers Jonathon Crawford and Nick Williams were rock solid, combining to throw 11.1 innings of nine-hit baseball. Florida took a 2-0 lead in the late innings, but Tennessee stormed back with one run in the eighth and ninth innings to give the biggest crowd of the series (4,825) free baseball.
With bases loaded and no outs in the 10th inning, Florida's Zack Powers hit a grounder to shortstop that Tennessee's A.J. Simcox couldn't get home in time. The winning run scored, 3-2 Gators.
Florida comes out of the weekend 25-20 with a 12-9 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
"If you look at the big picture, we're playing better," O'Sullivan said. "Obviously we're disappointed with the outcome today, but we're playing better."
- 2B Casey Turgeon: Florida's sophomore second baseman hasn't had quite the breakout season fans were expecting, but he certainly showed signs of life this weekend by going 5 for 11 with one homer while scoring four runs.
- LHP Danny Young: Bumped up to a Friday night start because of a minor ankle injury for Crawford, Young gave up no runs over 5.2 innings as part of Florida's series-opening victory.
- SS Cody Dent: A regular in this category, Dent remains in the lineup because of his glove and certainly not his bat. Dent went 0 for 10 with one strikeout and one walk this season.
- 3B Josh Tobias: Falling back into the slump he started his sophomore season on, Tobias went 2 for 11 this weekend with one strikeout and one run. He has become a mainstay toward the bottom of the lineup after being a heralded prospect entering his freshman season.