Kentrail Davis (20) and Josh Liles (33)
March 19, 2009
The Tennessee baseball team travels to Gainesville, Fla., this weekend for its first Southeastern Conference road test of the season. The three-game series against the Florida Gators, ranked No. 25 by the NCBWA, begins with a 6:30 p.m. contest Friday. Game times are set for 4 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Friday's game will be televised regionally on SUN Sports.
Florida leads the all-time series with Tennessee 131-76, dating back to 1961. The Gators hold a 71-34 edge in Gainesville, but the Vols have won six of the last 10 meetings overall. Tennessee has also won the last five regular-season series between the two teams, including their last two trips to Gainesville in 2007 and 2005.
The Volunteers (9-9, 1-2 SEC) are coming off a split of midweek games against No. 15-ranked Coastal Carolina and Tennessee Tech, and looking for their first SEC-series victory. Tennessee is batting .310 as a team and has a 5.38 staff ERA through 18 games this season.
Offensively, the highlight for UT thus far in 2009 continues to be sophomore catcher Blake Forsythe. Tennessee's top hitter with a .433 average, Forsythe also leads the team with nine home runs, a .938 slugging percentage, and a .563 on-base percentage. He is also tied for tops on the team with 26 hits.
The Gators (11-7, 0-3 SEC) are looking for their first SEC victory after being swept on the road by Arkansas in the opening weekend of conference play. Florida returns home with a .275 team batting average and a 3.79 team ERA. Shortstop Josh Adams is batting .350 with 21 hits, two home runs and 11 RBIs. Center fielder Matt den Dekker ranks second with a .347 average. First baseman Brandon McArthur leads the club with 17 RBIs.
This weekend's pitching matchups being with Friday's showdown between UT junior left-hander Nick Hernandez (1-1, 4.50 ERA) and Florida right-hander Jeff Barfield (2-0, 0.55 ERA). Tennessee right-hander Stephen McCray (3-0, 2.84 ERA) will take the mound Saturday against Gators left-hander Nick Maronde (1-1, 2.14 ERA). Sunday's starting pitcher for UT is undetermined while senior righty Patrick Keating (2-3, 4.37 ERA) will pitch for UF.
Hernandez (Hialeah) is one of four current Vols who hails from the Sunshine State. Other Florida natives on the UT roster are pitchers Danny Wiltz (Miami), Aaron Tullo (St. Petersburg) and Bryan Morgado (Miami).
Three current Vols own career batting averages of better than .300 against Florida (Josh Liles, .375; Jeff Lockwood .364; Cody Grisham, .333). In last year's home series victory against the Gators, Tennessee hit .323 as a team with a 5.76 ERA. Liles and Lockwood each homered and hit better than .375 in the series.
All three games are slated for radio broadcast in the Knoxville area on WNML FM 99.1 & 99.3. In addition, a free audio stream of the baseball play-by-play for all three games can be accessed online at UTsports.com.