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Vol Baseball set to host Florida in SEC weekend clash

BY ANDREW SMITH

The sixth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers (25-5, 7-2 SEC) will be playing host to the No. 12 Florida Gators (20-9, 5-4 SEC) in a weekend series starting Friday night at Lindsey-Nelson Stadium.

The Vols, who are off to their best start since 2004, will be turning to junior RHP Chad Dallas to start the series. Dallas is 4-0 with a 4.28 ERA in 2021 and has a career record of 7-0 with a career ERA of 3.60.

His likely counterpart for game one will be junior RHP Tommy Mace. This season, the Gators’ ace has a record of 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA, with career statistics of 15-5 and a 4.57 ERA.

Tennessee last played on Tuesday night, where they defeated Eastern Kentucky 10-1. Their last conference opponent was Alabama, from whom they took two out of three games last weekend.

Florida had two mid-week matchups this week. The Gators beat Stetson Tuesday by a final of 7-6 and beat Florida A&M Wednesday 10-0.

There is a possibility UT could be without its leadoff hitter and shortstop, Liam Spence, who is nursing a hamstring injury. Head coach Tony Vitello said Spence will be “involved” this weekend but does not know to what extent.

This week has been an eventful one for Spence, Vitello said.

“The kid’s had more academics this week,” Vitello said. “You know, sometimes, anyone who’s been in college knows it kind of comes in cycles. It’s like, ‘Man, I’m on Easy Street.’ And then next thing you know, you’re swamped.

“And he set aside a lot of time for academics this week, so it’s kind of worked out well with the rehab schedule if that’s the right word to call what he’s been doing in the training room. He also got vaccinated this week, and anyone who’s done that knows there’s, you know, at least a little something the thing gives you.”

Vitello also said that he knows Spence will want to play come Friday, but it may be in his best interest in the long-term to hold him out.

Game one of three will be at 6:30 Friday night on the SEC Network Plus.

**Editor’s Note – Andrew Smith is a graduate of Hampton High School and is a freshman at the University of Tennessee majoring in Sports Journalism.