June 17, 2005
OMAHA, Neb. -- Despite a gutsy, late-inning rally Friday, the Tennessee baseball team dropped a 6-4 contest to Florida in front of 21,546 during opening-round action of the 2005 NCAA College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium. The Volunteers and Gators each posted eight hits, but two unearned runs proved to be the difference.
Tennessee (46-20) fell into the CWS loser's bracket and will face the loser of Friday night's contest between Nebraska and Arizona State Sunday at 1 p.m. CT (ESPN). Florida improved to 46-20 and will play the winner of Friday's nightcap.
"It was one of those games where we didn't do a good job of playing catch," UT head coach Rod Delmonico said. "We had a tough time getting on basehits with men in scoring position ... but they can't send us home until we lose two games. We'll make some adjustments and come back ready to play (Sunday)."
Florida opened the game's scoring when leadoff man Jeff Corsaletti - who reached on a walk - scored from third on an RBI fielder's choice by catcher Brian Jeroloman in the bottom of the first inning.
The Gators put a pair of runners in scoring position in the bottom of the second, but Vols ace Luke Hochevar got Corsaletti to strike out swinging and end the inning with no damage sustained.
In the bottom of the third, UF first baseman Matt LaPorta connected on an 0-1 pitch and sent his 26th homer of the season into the stands in left field. The solo shot tied LaPorta for the NCAA-lead in home runs and gave the Gators a 2-0 lead.
Corsaletti drew a walk in the bottom of the fourth to load the bases with just one out. Second baseman Adam Davis then reached on a fielding error, allowing shortstop Justin Tordi to score from third. One batter later, LaPorta enabled Stephen Barton to cross on an RBI sacrifice fly and make the score 4-0 in favor of the Gators heading into the fifth.
A fielding error in the Gators outfield allowed Tennessee to load the bases with one out in the top of the fifth. All-America outfielder Eli Iorg then drove in King with an RBI sacrifice fly to trim Florida's lead to three runs.
Florida countered the Vols' punch with one run on a pair of hits in the bottom half of the fifth, but things could have been much worse for UT. Barton plated right fielder Brian Leclerc with an RBI sacrifice fly to restore UF's four-run lead, and the Gators loaded the bases with two outs later in the inning. Davis then hit what appeared to be a grand slam to right field. But Iorg made a spectacular leaping catch at the wall, spoiling what would have translated into a commanding 9-1 lead for Florida.
Jeroloman hit a solo homer in the sixth, marking the fourth straight inning that the Gators had scratched a run.
Gators right-hander Alan Horne left the game after allowing two runs (one earned) in six effective innings of work. The junior scattered four hits, struck out eight batters and tied a career-high with six walks.
He picked up the win and improved to 10-2 on the year. Horne gave way to right-hander Connor Falkenbach, who was touched for two runs on three hits in just 2/3 inning.
After drawing a walk to lead off the seventh inning, Vols junior Josh Alley advanced to third on a double down the left-field line by King. Alley then scored on an RBI groundout by freshman catcher J.P. Arencibia. The switch-hitting Headley then worked himself into a full count before smacking his 14th home run of the season. The two-run shot (his sixth of the year from the left side of the plate) cut the Gators' lead to just two runs.
Two of Tennessee's next three batters reached base before UF made the call to its bullpen once again, bringing in Pete. The left-hander induced a groundout that put an end to the Vols' three-run rally inning.
Tennessee went to its bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, bringing in right-handed closer Sean Watson. The sophomore struck out two and walked four in two full innings on the hill. Prior to his exit, Hochevar recorded three Ks through six innings to extend his UT single-season strikeout record to 154. The first-team All-America allowed six runs (four earned) on eight hits while walking five. The loss dropped him 15-3 this season.
UF reliever Mike Pete allowed one hit while working two full innings, and Darren O'Day tossed the final 1/3 inning while logging his seventh save of the year.
The teams combined to strand 26 runners and issue 15 walks.
Tennessee is 1-1 all-time against Southeastern Conference teams in the College World Series. The Vols' overall record in the CWS now stands at 8-7.