KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Freshman Austin Maddox put on a power display for the eighth-ranked Florida Gators baseball team. But it was no match for the opportunistic offense displayed by the Tennessee Volunteers Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Just about 20 miles from Oak Ridge, where nuclear power got its start, Tennessee offset the two solo home runs by Maddox by scoring seven runs with two outs in a 12-4 victory.
Senior Stephen McCray (4-3) was the beneficiary of the Vols’ offensive explosion, which was led by junior Cody Hawn (2-for-4) who had four RBI with a pair of two-run doubles. That more than offset the 3-for-5 performance by Maddox. The victory by Tennessee (16-16, 3-8 SEC East) evened the weekend series with Florida (22-8, 7-4 SEC East) at a game apiece. The Gators are trying to win their first series in Knoxville since 2002. The Gators and Vols wrap up the series Sunday at 12:30 p.m., live on CSS. Freshman right-hander Hudson Randall (2-3, 4.68 ERA) will oppose Vol sophomore lefty Steven Gruver (1-1, 5.27 ERA).
Maddox hit his team-leading eighth home run with two outs in the first inning off McCray, a solo shot that landed in the Nelson Stadium “Porch” seating area overlooking left field. But the Vols evened the score in the bottom of the first with an RBI single by junior P.J. Polk (3-for-5) off freshman Brian Johnson (3-2).
Tennessee took the lead on an inside-the-park home run by sophomore Matt Ramsey (2-for-3) that occurred when Florida freshman Kamm Washington crashed into the right-field wall trying to make the play and was injured. In the third, Polk singled with one out and swiped his team-leading 16th stolen base before junior Josh Liles stroked an RBI single into left field for a 3-1 lead.
After Johnson got Osborne to line out to left field to start Tennessee’s fifth, he was replaced by sophomore Justin Poovey. Over 4.1 innings, Johnson gave up six hits and three runs, with a career-high three walks and two strikeouts. The Vols then exploded for four runs on four hits and an error with two down to take a 7-1 lead. Poovey issued a two-out walk to Liles and a base-hit to Duffy before Hawn roped a two-run double to expand the Vols’ advantage to 5-1.
Ramsey had an infield single and then Florida freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana committed his first error of the season with an errant throw over to first base that allowed Hawn to score the sixth run. Fontana had handled his first 127 chances without an error. Forsythe followed with a double into left center to put the Vols ahead by six runs, 7-1.
After Poovey retired the first two Vols in the sixth, the hosts rallied for three runs on three hits and a walk to build a 10-1 cushion. Polk legged out an infield hit to start the rally, stole second and Liles walked on four pitches for two runners aboard. Duffy poked an RBI single down the left-field line and Hawn launched a two-run double into left center that scored two more.
McCray limited the Gators to one run on seven hits over 6.1 innings and matched his career high of seven strikeouts without walking any batters. Freshman Nick Blount surrendered Maddox’s second homer of the contest with two down in the eighth. Tennessee countered with a two-run, pinch-hit home run by senior Cody Grisham in the bottom of the eighth off Poovey, who allowed nine hits and nine runs while walking three and striking out two.
Sophomore Daniel Pigott of Florida had a two-run, pinch-hit double in the ninth that completed the scoring. Tennessee outhit Florida 15-12. In addition to Maddox’s three hits, Tyler Thompson, Matt den Dekker and Ben McMahan had two hits each. Preston Tucker had a pinch-hit single to stretch his hitting streak to five games.