KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Griffin Merritt’s two home runs highlighted a dominant victory over No. 2/3 Florida in Saturday afternoon’s series finale, as the Volunteers run-ruled the Gators, 14-2, at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Making his first start since last Thursday’s series opener at LSU, Merritt led No. 8/11 Tennessee with three hits and a career-high six RBIs on the day, punctuated by a walk-off three-run blast to put the run-rule into effect in the eighth inning.
Drew Beam put forth his best start in conference play, going seven innings strong while tying a career high with 10 strikeouts. The sophomore right hander held Florida’s dangerous lineup scoreless through six innings and allowed just two runs on four hits to pick up his fourth victory of the season.
The Vols’ offensive outburst was aided by 18 walks from Florida pitchers, including six in the first inning alone by Jac Caglianone, who became the second starting pitcher in as many weeks not to make it out of the first inning against the Big Orange. Caglianone recorded just two outs and gave up three runs despite not allowing a hit before being pulled.
UT put up another three spot in the third inning to increase its lead to six. Merritt scored on an error before Cal Stark crushed his third homer of the year, a two-run blast over the porches in left-center field.
Tennessee tacked on two more runs in the fourth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh before Merritt’s game-ending three-run homer in the eighth.
The top five hitters in the Vols’ batting order combined to score 12 runs and draw 11 walks. Christian Moore and Blake Burke did not record a hit but were on base consistently and had three runs and three walks apiece.
Luke Heyman drove in the only two runs for the Gators with a home run in the top of the seventh inning to break up UT’s shutout bid.
UP NEXT: The Vols (22-10, 5-7 SEC) will host Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m. before hitting the road to take on Arkansas next weekend.