Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk

Florida continued it’s fast start in SEC play by defeating Tennessee 6-1 in Thursday’s series opener in Knoxville.

Despite facing one of the nation’s elite starting pitchers, the Gators’ offense was able to crush three home runs across the fourth and fifth innings to put the game out of reach for the Volunteers.

Florida got to UT starter Chase Dollander early, scoring a run in the second inning on a Michael Robertson single that plated Cade Kurland to put the Gators ahead 1-0.

The Volunteers responded in the home half of the second as Blake Burke turned on a 2-0 fastball from Florida’s starter, Brandon Sproat, and crushed it beyond the batter’s eye in center to even the score.

Kurland added another run to the Florida line in the fourth frame with a solo homer, his ninth of the season, to give the Gators a 2-1 advantage.

Florida added four runs in the fifth inning to put the game out of reach and knock Dollander out of the game. Josh Rivera hit a three-run homer and was followed by a solo shot from BT Riopelle.

Sproat had a solid outing, going 5.2 innings and allowing just one earned run. Lefty Philip Abner entered with two down in the sixth and shut down an opportunity for a rally before throwing two more innings and coming out unscathed.

Florida closer Brandon Neely closed it out in the ninth and despite loading the bases, didn’t allow a run.

For the Gators, Kurland finished 2-4 on the day while Jac Caglianone extended his hitting streak to nine games with a 2-5 night at the plate. Wyatt Langford, batting leadoff for the first time all year, reached base twice via walk.

Florida and Tennessee will continue their series Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM. The Gators will throw Hurston Waldrep on the mound looking for the series victory.

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