The No. 13 Florida Gators (36-18) baseball team clinched a share of the SEC title Thursday night. They defeated the Tennessee Volunteers (30-21) at Lindsey Nelson Stadium and needed 11 innings to do so. It was the team’s 13th SEC championship and first since 2011. Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan tied former coach Dave Fuller for the most conference championships in school history with three.
Florida gave up a run in the first inning but tied it up in second after a three-run home run by DH Peter Alonso. He drove in center fielder Harrison Bader and catcher Taylor Gushue who both walked earlier in the inning. Alonso’s fourth bomb of the year put the Gators up 3-1.
First baseman Zack Powers increased the UF lead in the fifth when he hit a two-out RBI double to right field to score right fielder Braden Mattson who had walked.
Tennessee came back to take the lead late in the game when second baseman Will Maddux hit an RBI single in the eighth inning. That came after the three-run sixth inning that was capped by a three-run home run by third baseman Taylor Smart.
Bader came through in the ninth inning with a two-out RBI double to score second baseman Casey Turgeon that tied the game. He was 3-5 on the night including a walk.
In the 11th inning, Bader singled to left field before stealing second base. He then advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher and scored on a fielding error by the center fielder. It was all the Gators would need as freshman Kirby Snead came on to close out the game and earn his first save of the season.
Junior Ryan Harris (3-1) picked up the victory throwing a single inning and giving up no runs on one hit. Starter Logan Shore received a no-decision after he allowed three runs on eight hits with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings.
Andrew Lee (4-4) took the loss for the Volunteers. The sophomore RHP surrendered four runs on seven hits in seven innings of work. The Tennessee pitching staff allowed eight walks on the night but did record ten strikeouts.
The Gators will take on UT in game two on Friday at 6 PM. Senior Nick Williams (5-4) is scheduled to start for Tennessee. Florida’s pitcher is TBA.