May 21, 2004
Knoxville, Tenn. - Kelly Edmundson drove home Brian Cleveland with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Tennessee inched closer to a berth in the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 5-4 victory over the Florida Gators in the first of three games at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Saturday's game is at 7 p.m. ET.
Coupled with Friday's win over the Gators and Auburn's 9-7 loss at Arkansas, Tennessee's magic number at 1 for its first SEC Tournament berth since 2001. A UT win or an Auburn loss in the weekend's next two games puts the Vols in the league's postseason tournament. Tennessee enters Saturday's play with a two-game lead over Auburn and Mississippi State with two to play for the SEC Tourney's final spot.
Tennessee (35-19, 13-15 SEC) snapped a six-game losing streak with the win, while 13th-ranked Florida (37-17, 16-12 SEC) dropped its fourth straight contest.
Kyle Norrid got the Vols started in the ninth with a double to right center and took third on Cleveland's single. Following an intentional walk to Chase Headley, Norrid was erased at the plate on C.J. Smith's throw when Michael Rivera hit a weak chopper to first. Edmundson then blooped a single off reliever Connor Falkenbach (7-5) over Smith's head into right scoring Cleveland.
Florida starter Justin Hoyman had almost an identical pitching line, allowing four runs on 11 hits in 7 1/3 innings with three strikeouts and four walks.
Down 3-0 after five Florida scored four unanswered runs to take a 4-3 lead after seven. Tennessee tied it in the eighth when Rivera scored on Eli Iorg's double after moving to second on a single by Eric King. Iorg, who was one of five Vols with two hits, collected his first RBI in the second to give the Vols a 2-0 lead.
Tennessee scratched for single runs in the first, second and fourth before Matt LaPorta's two-run home run capped a three-run sixth as the Gators tied the game 3-3. Ben Harrison started the rally by getting hit and taking third on Jeff Corsaletti's single before scoring on a fielders choice. LaPorta followed with his 10th home run, a towering shot to left to tie the game.
They took the lead in the seventh when pinch runner Gavin Dickey stole second and came around to score on Smith's single.
Alex Suarez put the Vols on the board in the first with an RBI single, while Rivera gave the Vols a 3-0 lead in the fourth, scoring on ground out.