GAINESVILLE, Fla.-After Florida battled back three times to tie the game, Tennessee finally held the lead in the 10th inning to win 7-6 on Friday night in Gainesville at McKethan Stadium.
Tennessee (16-11, 2-8 SEC) led four separate times throughout the game and Florida (20-10, 5-5 SEC) couldn't muster a tying run in the 10th. The Gators have played 16 one-run games already this season with a 10-6 record in those contests.
Florida starter Alex Faedo racked up a season high 12 strikeouts but allowed six runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings. As a staff, Florida totaled a season high 18 strikeouts.
Senior Ryan Larson had the Gators first four-hit game of the season with a double, home run and two RBI on the night. Deacon Liput, Dalton Guthrie and Mike Rivera each had two hits on the night as seven of Florida's nine starters recorded hits.
Florida opened the scoring in the second inning. After back-to-back walks from Nelson Maldonado and Rivera to open the frame, Ryan Larson singled to right field to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.
Faedo looked nearly untouchable through the first three innings, but Tennessee got to him in the fourth. Four straight hits to start the inning gave the Volunteers a 2-1 lead.
Reggie Southall then hit a one-out single to left to make it 3-1.
The Gators responded immediately, tying the game in the bottom of the fourth. Rivera doubled to open the inning and Hicks singled to put runners on the corners.
Keenan Bell followed with a RBI single to pull UF within one. Nick Horvath's grounder to second base was enough to bring home Hicks from third to tie the game.
Tennessee regained the lead in the fifth after a RBI double from Andre Lipcius, but Florida responded again. Guthrie led off with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. He came in to score after an error on the second baseman allowed Rivera to reach.
The Vols scored again in the sixth. Brodie Leftridge's RBI triple gave UT a 5-4 lead and Justin Ammons made it a two-run cushion with a two-out single.
Florida got one run back in the bottom of the sixth. Larson hit a one-out double off the left field wall and scored on Liput's single through the left side.
In the eighth, Larson came through again, hitting his third home run of the season to tie the game 6-6.
Freshman Garrett Milchin worked 2.1 scoreless innings in relief before Michael Byrne took the mound to work a scoreless ninth inning.
Florida couldn't score in the bottom of the inning and the Gators moved on to extra innings for the third time this season.
Tennessee threatened immediately in the top of the 10th. Back-to-back singles set the Vols up in scoring position and a sac bun put runners on second and third with one out.
Pinch hitter Will Heflin swung on the first pitch he saw and lifted a ball to deep right field that allowed Lipcius to tag up and score the go-ahead run. Byrne struck out the final batter to prevent any further damage.
In the bottom of the 10th, Larson singled to right for his fourth hit of the game but he was stranded at first as Tennessee's Jon Lipinski closed it out.
Game two of the series is Saturday at 6 p.m. It will air live on SEC Network with Dave Neal and Chris Burke on the broadcast.
Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan
"We just didn't make good pitches with runners in scoring position on base, it's just that simple. It's disappointing. This is a hard team to figure out. We play Tuesday night and have a rain-shortened game, we were down 10-1, come back Wednesday and don't have a very spirited practice. It wasn't very good. Then tonight, we have Alex on the mound and get 13 hits and scored six runs - that should be enough. We won three one-run games last week in Missouri and kind of get on a roll, start to feel good about ourselves. Then we had that game on Tuesday. We come out today and seven of our nine starters get hits and the offense does what they're supposed to do. Then we just don't have a good start on the mound. It's a hard team to figure out. We're just going to have to continue to figure this thing out and move forward to tomorrow."