Jeff Christensen collected four hits and drove in four runs to help lead the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers to a 12-6 win over the Florida Gators at McKethan Stadium. The victory extended Tennessee's winning streak to five games, improving its record to 15-2 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida fell to 9-9 overall and 0-2 in the league.
Tennessee's bullpen came to the rescue once again as Joe Bertolino and Patrick Hicklen combined to hold the Gators to one run on four hits over the final 6 1/3 innings. Bertolino (1-0) earned the victory after coming in relief of starter Wyatt Allen in the third inning. Hicklen (Save, 2) tossed 3 2/3 shutout innings for his second save.
Allen, who walked career high seven in the shortest starting stint of his career, was lifted after allowing five runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings. He did manage to strike out five.
Dan Wilson, Matt Sternberg, Dennis Gomez each had two hits apiece, while Wilson, Sternberg and Kris Bennett each added two RBI.
Jay Belflower (1-3) took the loss as he allowed five runs (four earned) in 2 1/3 innings in relief of starter Jimmy Ramshaw who was pulled in the third inning.
The Vols went for their first road sweep in SEC play Sunday since they defeated Georgia three straight in 1996.
Tennessee broke through with a run in the second when Javi Herrera came around to score on a Gator error after reaching on a fielders choice, stealing second and advancing to third on Dennis Gomez's infield single. The Vols then took advantage of two more Gator errors in the third while getting a two-run single from Christensen, a double by Stevie Daniel and a sacrifice fly by Wilson in taking a 5-0 lead.
The injury bug jumped up again and took out Herrera who left the game the third inning with a hamstring injury running to first base. That lead was short lived as the Gators, who sent 10 men to the plate, tied the game in the bottom of the third on a three-run home run by Matt Goss, an error and a single by Aaron Davidson.
Tennessee regained the lead in the fifth as they tacked up three runs on four hits for an 8-5 advantage. Christensen and Wilson each singled to lead off the inning and later scored on consecutive base hits from Gomez and Sternberg. Bennett's sacrifice fly plated Gomez with the final tally of the frame.
Goss drove in his fourth run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the sixth as Florida pulled to within two at 8-6. But the Vols tacked on three more on three hits in the eighth in taking an 11-6 lead.
Christensen's two-run bases loaded double was the key to the inning. Bennett tied the school record with his second sacrifice fly in the ninth as Tennessee added its final run.
The final game of the series was played on Sunday afternoon. Results were unavailable at press time.