Jeremy Pruitt’s first pitch may have been a miss but Sunday brought a win for the Tennessee Baseball program.
After the Vols head football coach threw his opening pitch wide left to the backstop, Tennessee was one play away from winning the series against the best ranked team in college baseball.
Tennessee split Sunday’s doubleheader with No. 1 Florida with a 6-4 loss in game two of the series followed by a 6-4 win to avoid being swept. The Vols fell to the Gators 22-6 Saturday night.
Tennessee improves to 19-14 (5-7 SEC) this season.
With it being a doubleheader, Sunday’s games were scheduled to be seven innings each but the first showdown of the day went to 11. The Vols were one out away from winning the game before Wil Dalton, a Spring Hill, Tenn. native, knocked in a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to put Florida ahead for the first time, 4-3.
Tennessee rallied back behind the bat of Justin Ammons, who went 4-6 with 2 RBI. Ammons’ second RBI of the game tied the game to force extra innings before the Gators scored two runs in the eleventh to seal the game.
“If you’re a true competitor you want it tough,” head coach Tony Vitello said. “That means it’s a little harder to handle the results sometimes but you want a challenge and you want to measure yourself up against the best.”
Tennessee entered the second game with even more spark, piling up all six of its runs in the third inning.
Pete Derkay cleared the bases with a three-run double to put Tennessee in front 3-1.
“You obviously don’t want to get swept, it’s always good to take one,” Derkay said. “We’re honestly a little bitter. We should’ve had two but we were just one play away and that’s kind of how baseball works but it was great to get one.”
With the 6-4 win, the Vols snapped a five-game conference losing streak and posted their first win over a top-ranked team since topping the Gators 5-2 at home on May 7, 2016.
This is Tennessee’s second win over a top 10 team this season.
Tennessee hosts UT Martin for a two-game series starting on Tuesday. First pitch from Lindsey Nelson Stadium is at 6:30 p.m.