UT wins first four conference series for first time since 1970

With Saturday’s victory, Tennessee has now won its first four conference series for the first time since 1970
Published: Apr. 11, 2021 at 12:05 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2021 at 10:11 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - No. 4 Tennessee scored all five of its runs in the sixth inning and held on for a 5-4 series-clinching win over SEC rival No. 9 Florida on Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Jordan Beck, Luc Lipcius and Connor Pavolony all had RBI hits in UT’s big sixth inning. The Vols trailed 3-0 entering the frame and had been held to just one hit up to that point by Gators’ starter Franco Aleman. Aleman allowed just one hit in his five innings of work but walked three and allowed two runs to receive a no-decision.

With Saturday’s victory, Tennessee (26-5 // 9-2 SEC) has now won its first four conference series for the first time since 1970.

After holding the Gators to just one hit through the first three innings, senior starting pitcher Will Heflin ran into trouble in the fourth and was bounced from the game after allowing three runs on four hits in the inning. Sterlin Thompson hit a solo home run to open the scoring and Jordan Carrion made it 3-0 with a two-run single with two outs.

Sophomore right hander Mark McLaughlin was able to calm the waters by stranding a pair of runners to end the fourth. He went on to strike out three and did not allow a hit in 2.1 innings of work to earn the win and improve to 2-0 on the year.

The Vols exploded for five runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-3 lead. Florida pitchers walked the first four batters of the inning to allow UT to score its first run of the night. Tennessee cut the deficit to one on a groundout before stringing together three consecutive RBI hits to take a two-run advantage.

Beck drove in the tying run with a single before Lipcius hit a double that landed just inside the left-field foul line to score Beck from first to put the Big Orange on top. Pavolony capped the scoring in the inning with an RBI single to score Lipcius.

The Gators scored a run in the ninth to make things interesting, but sophomore lefty Kirby Connell finished off the three-inning save by striking out Thompson to end the game. Connell finished with four strikeouts, including three in the ninth inning.

Tennessee will go for the series sweep tomorrow after at 1 p.m. Freshman right hander Blade Tidwell is scheduled to get the start for the Vols. Fans can watch the game on SEC Network+ and the ESPN app.

VOLS MAKING MORE HISTORY: By securing another series win with Saturday’s 5-4 win, the Vols have won their first four SEC series for the first time since 1970 when they took down Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky and Vanderbilt to start conference play.

THE MAGIC STACHE: Kirby Connell has been lights out for the Vols all season long and continued his dominant pitching on Saturday night. The sophomore from South Carolina pitched the final three innings to earn his first-career save. For the season, Connell has a 1.00 ERA with and 30 strikeouts in 27.0 innings pitched.

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