March 28, 2003
Gainesville, Fla. - The No. 15 Florida Gators scored two runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings to rally for a 5-3 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers in the first of three games at McKethan Stadium.
With the score tied 3-3, Florida (20-6-1, 3-3-1 SEC) loaded the bases in the eighth off reliever Luke Hochevar (4-2) on two walks and a base hit as Ben Harrison plated the go-ahead run on Jake Riordan's sacrifice fly. Mario Garza, whose single loaded the bases, scored an insurance run on Justin Toadi's base hit.
After giving up one run on two hits in the first inning, Ben Riley once again turned it up a notch by retiring 16 of the next 22 hitters he faced, shutting out the Gators over the next five-plus innings despite giving five walks and hit batter during that span. But it would go for naught as the final two free passes he yielded in the seventh scored on a Brett Dowdy double off reliever Joey Andrews that tied the game at 3-3.
The Gators struck for a run in the first on an RBI single from catcher Brian Rose that scored C.J Smith from second for a 1-0 lead. Tennessee responded with a run in the top of the second when Chad LeGate reached on a one-out double, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Justin Branson's sacrifice fly.
Cleveland led off the fourth with his fourth home run of the season to center field, while LeGate followed two batters later with his second home run to left giving Tennessee a 3-1 lead.
Connor Falkenbach (3-1) pitched the final four innings in relief of Gator starter Adam Sanabria for the win. Falkenbach limited Tennessee to one hit while Sanabria worked five innings in his second start, giving up three runs on six hits.
Game two of the series is Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. It will be televised on FOX Sports Net.