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Dominant Causey Propels Tennessee Past Florida In Game One Of Double Header

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball used productive early inning at-bats and a fantastic AJ Causey relief outing to defeat Florida 6-2 in game one of the Friday afternoon double header at Condron Family Ballpark in Gainesville.

Here’s everything to know about Tennessee’s series opening victory.

Tennessee Grinds Brandon Neely Out Of The Game Early

With it being the first game of a double header and Florida’s lack of pitching depth, the Gators desperately needed Brandon Neely to eat innings for them to open up the series.

Neely wasn’t bad by any means. He didn’t walk a single Vols or allow a home run. Tennessee only had one extra-base hit off of him.

But what Tennessee did was work incredibly competitive at-bats and wear on Florida’s right-handed starter. In Neely’s four innings of work, Tennessee worked eight at-bats that were at least six pitches long. Most notably, Dean Curley fouled off three two strike pitches before shooting a RBI single to right field on the ninth pitch of an at-bat.

And while the Vols didn’t have many extra-base hits they did use six singles to score four runs off of Neely. It would have been five runs if Blake Burke hadn’t run through a stop sign to get thrown out at the plate in the third inning.

With the abundance of competitive at-bats, Tennessee pushed Neely from the game after he threw 85 pitches in just four innings. It didn’t pay massive dividends in game one of the double header but it could the rest of the weekend.

AJ Causey Works Out Of Fourth Inning Jam To Get On A Groove

After a solid Chris Stamos outing, AJ Causey entered the game with Tennessee leading 4-2 with no one out and a runner on first in the fourth inning.

Things immediately got hairy for Causey. He hit Tyler Shelnut and then a Cade Kurland sac bunt put two runners in-scoring position with just one-out. In one of the biggest swing moments of the game, Causey delivered. He struck out Hayden Yost and then got a weak ground ball to get out of the inning unscathed.

It was by far Florida’s best scoring opportunity until the eighth inning. Causey got in a groove after getting out of the fourth inning jam. He retired the next eight batters he faced including two strikeouts as Florida struggled to touch the submarine pitcher.

Florida put runners on the corners with no one out in the eighth inning as they looked to make a run at Tennessee. Causey calmly struck out Colby Shelton and got Luke Heyman to ground into a double play to exit the inning unscathed.

Kirby Connell came in to relieve Causey after Florida led off the ninth inning with back-to-back singles. Still, it was a fantastic outing from Causey.

More From RTI: Tennessee Starter Sidelined To Open Florida Series

Tennessee Scratches Off An Insurance Run In The Eighth And Ninth

After finding success against Neely, it was largely a quiet back half of the game for Tennessee’s offense against Florida’s bullpen. Jake Clemente gave Tennessee the most issues, striking out five Vols in 2.1 innings pitched.

Tennessee missed a scoring opportunity in the seventh inning before threatening again in the eighth inning. They forced a pitching change by putting the runners on first and second with no one out and then loaded the bases with one-out.

Reese Chapman, who struck out in his first three at-bats, then turned in a great at-bat and roped a line drive sac fly to center field. Tennessee couldn’t scratch off another run in the eighth inning but went back to work in the ninth.

The Vols got the leadoff man on when Cal Stark was hit-by a pitch but the opportunity appeared spoiled when Christian Moore lined into a double play. But then the Vols went back to work with those competitive at-bats.

Two strike singles from Blake Burke and Billy Amick gave Tennessee a scoring opportunity and Dylan Dreiling capitalized with a two strike single of his own that drove Burke home.

The two insurance runs gave Tennessee a 6-2 lead which proved important as Florida threatened in the ninth inning.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee and Florida resumes its weekend series in just 45 minutes in game two of the Friday double header. SEC Network+ is streaming the game

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