Tennessee baseball responded from a horrific first two games of the weekend by run-ruling Florida 14-2 Saturday afternoon to salvage the series.
The Vols jumped out to a first inning lead and never looked back as Drew Beam was excellent on the mound in the victory.
Here’s everything to know about the series finale.
More From RTI: Live Updates For Tennessee’s Game Three Win Over Florida
Florida Starter Jac Caglianone Doesn’t Find The Strike Zone
After Tennessee’s offense struggled in each of the first two games of the series, Florida starter Jac Caglianone gave the Vols a first inning gift with his inability to find the strike zone.
The two-way star walked the game’s first four batters — throwing 15 straight balls at one point — to give the Vols an early 1-0 lead. Tennessee added two more runs in the first inning on a wild pitch and a Zane Denton RBI groundout.
Caglianone didn’t make it out of the first inning after walking Cal Stark to load the bases with two-outs. The left-handed pitcher faced eight batters, walking six of them as Tennessee took a three-run lead while putting just one ball in play.
Tyler Nesbit relieved Caglianone and got Austen Jaslove swinging to end the inning. The Vols could have opened up a large first inning lead but having even a three-run lead after the first two games of the series was a massive win for Tennessee.
Drew Beam Answers The Bell
Pondering on his struggling starting pitching Friday night Tony Vitello expressed his high level of confidence in game three starter Drew Beam.
Beam proved that confidence was well placed, turning in his best outing of the season in what felt like a must win game for the Vols.
Florida jumped on Tennessee early in each of the series’ first two games but Beam started strong against the top of the Gators’ loaded lineup retiring the side around a two-out single.
The first inning was the start of Beam’s best start of the season. The sophomore allowed just four hits and two runs while striking out 10 batters in seven innings pitched. Beam surrendered just one walks to allow only five baserunners in his outing while his 10 strikeouts tied a career high.
Beam was consistently ahead in counts, pounding the strike zone as he usually does. The mid-90s throwing right0handed pitcher didn’t make mistakes with two strikes and had great control of his off speed pitches as he kept Florida off balance all afternoon.
The end result was a brilliant Drew Beam start when Tennessee needed it most.
Griffin Merritt Gets His Swagger Back
The start of SEC play was not kind to Cincinnati transfer outfielder Griffin Merritt. Merritt struggled badly at the plate, going 20 straight at-bats without reaching base.
The left fielder lost his starting job entering the weekend series but was a rare bright spot in the game two loss. Merritt pinch hit and roped a single up the middle for one of Tennessee’s six hits.
The strong at-bat was enough for Merritt to earn to start in Saturday’s series finale and the left fielder made the most of his opportunity.
Merritt worked a RBI walk in his first at-bat and was even better the rest of the game. The power hitting transfer went tree-of-four at the plate with a double, two home runs and six RBIs. The second of Merritt’s home run enacted the run-rule in the eighth inning. Merritt reached base in all four of his at-bats and was Tennessee’s best bat Saturday.
Merritt showing life at the plate is a real plus for Tennessee. The outfielder has real pop in his bat and is a right-hander in a left-handed hitting heavy lineup.
Tennessee returns to Lindsey Nelson Stadium Tuesday night for a midweek bout with Eastern Kentucky. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. ET