April 2, 2011
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A two-run home run by Tennessee senior Khayyan Norfork tied the game in the top of the sixth, but third-ranked Florida scored twice in the bottom of the frame and seven times in the seventh to break the game open, eventually winning, 11-2, on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.
"It was a tie game in the sixth, 2-2, but it just got away," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "We walked some guys, misplayed a bunt, made a bad 0-2 pitch and paid for it. The game was really a lot closer. I thought we had the momentum, coming back to make it 2-2 with (runners on) first and second, but we hit into a double play. We will play hard (tomorrow). I'm not worried about that. We just have to go out and do what we did today. We felt like if we could keep it close in the middle innings, we would have a chance. I just didn't see the big inning coming up on us today."
Playing on his 21st birthday, Volunteer junior shortstop Zach Osborne had two of the team's four hits, both singles. Junior Davis Morgan had UT's only other hit, reaching base on a single to right before Norfork's third home run of the season.
Tennessee junior Steven Gruver suffered the loss, but posted another solid performance on the mound for the Big Orange, allowing four runs, three earned, on nine hits and four walks, while striking out four in 5.1 innings of work. Sophomore Zack Godley pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two, for the Vols. Florida's seven-run seventh came on just three hits against a pair of UT relievers.
After falling behind by two through five innings, Tennessee finally got on the scoreboard for the first time this weekend when Norfork followed a single by junior Davis Morgan by launching a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left to even the score.
The Gators answered quickly and loudly though, regaining the lead with two runs in the home half of the sixth with a two-RBI single by Nolan Fontana. The Florida shortstop struck again in the seventh, lining a bases-clearing triple down the right-field line for three more RBIs. That came after a double-play ball brought home another run and just one pitch before Daniel Pigott blasted a two-run shot to left to put the tally on the scoreboard at 11-2.
Tennessee had a chance to strike first early in the game as senior Tyler Horne reached second base to start the top of the third on an error by Florida starting pitcher Brian Johnson. Sophomore Chris Fritts followed with a hot shot back up the middle, but Fontana corralled it and threw him out at first. Horne moved to third on the play, but a check-swing strikeout and a lineout to second brought the frame to a close.
The Vols will look to salvage the third game of the series at 1 p.m. on Sunday. For the most up-to-date information on Tennessee baseball, visit www.UTSports.com/baseball and be sure to follow @Vol_Baseball on Twitter.