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Tennessee Baseball’s Offense Explodes To Run-Rule Florida In Series Rubber Match

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball turned an early three-run deficit into a 16-3 run-rule victory in just seven innings as the Vols clinched the weekend series over Florida.

Hunter Ensley had a massive game and Tennessee scored an astounding 11 runs in the sixth inning to blow past the Gators.

Here’s everything to know about how the Vols got it done on Saturday night in Gainesville.

Hunter Ensley Sparks Tennessee’s Offense

It’s possibly an oversimplification to say that Hunter Ensley changed the game with one at-bat. But when he came to the plate with runners on first and second and two-outs in the fourth inning, Florida had all the momentum.

The Gators were leading 3-0 and Tennessee had struggled to capitalize on baserunners throughout the game. An inning ending out certainly wouldn’t have completely changed the game but it would have been more adversity for the Vols.

Ensley made it obsolete, roping a line drive that one hopped off the wall in left field and drove in a pair of runners to get Tennessee on the board and cut the deficit to one. It was a stellar at-bat from Ensley. He got ahead 3-0, got a tough call to make it a full count and then fouled off three pitches before driving the ball to left field on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.

The center fielder came up in a big spot again in the sixth inning and he doubled to left field again to drive in two runs and give Tennessee its first lead of the game. He wasn’t even done in the sixth inning, more on it in a minute, as he hit an opposite field three-run homer in his second at-bat of the inning.

Ensley helped spark Tennessee’s offense by going three-of-four with seven RBIs. It proved crucial.

An Extended Nate Snead Outing

By no means had sophomore reliever Nate Snead been bad the last two weekends. But he had been a bit more shaky, failing to get out of jams in two outings at Kentucky and giving up some hard contact last week against Missouri.

After being a long relief specialist for much of the season, Snead hadn’t recorded six outs in one outing since the LSU series.

Tony Vitello discussed unleashing him for a longer outing following Tennessee’s midweek loss against Lipscomb and that’s exactly what he did. Snead came in to pitch in the third inning and took Tennessee the distance in a fantastic outing.

He allowed just one unearned run on two hits and one walk while striking out seven batters in four innings pitched. While the final two innings were relatively low leverage with a double digit lead, the first two were high stakes as he kept Tennessee in striking distance.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of Tennessee Baseball’s Series Finale Win Against Florida 

The Explosive Sixth Inning That Flipped The Game

Tennessee’s sixth inning offensive explosion was too long and effective to give any sort of play-by-play. So let’s start with the bare bones.

The Vols scored 10 runs on six hits and three walks. Fourteen Tennessee batters came to the plate as the Vols turned a one-run deficit into a 10-run lead.

There was an abundance of impressive at-bats from Tennessee in the inning. Kavares Tears worked a six-pitch leadoff walk, Dean Curley had a two strike RBI single on the sixth pitch of an at-bat, Blake Burke worked an eight pitch RBI walk, Billy Amick fouled off three two strike pitches before hitting a sac fly on the ninth pitch of the at-bat and Ensley did what we already talked about in the first.

As a whole, three Florida pitchers combined to throw a staggering 73 pitches in the sixth inning.

Tennessee’s 11 runs in the sixth inning exceeded its total for the first two games of the series.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee baseball returns to Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Tuesday night for its penultimate midweek game of the season against Queens. First pitch is at 6 p.m. ET and the SEC Network+ is streaming the game.

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