GAINESVILLE, Fla. - One moment Nick Hernandez was on fire. The next, he was on the hook for a loss.
Through 7 2/3 innings, Tennessee's starting pitcher had allowed just one run and six hits against Florida. Then Matt den Dekker came to the plate and blasted a two-run home run that was the difference in Florida's 3-2 victory at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium on Friday night.
Den Dekker stood in the batter's box, arms raised over his head, and did not start his run around the bases until the ball cleared the right-field fence.
Hernandez, who dominated Florida all night to that point, didn't take kindly to den Dekker's celebration.
"Well, he hit it. If I have another shot at him, we'll see what's gonna happen," Hernandez said. "You never want to see a player standing at the box like that. But he hit it, so there's nothing much else you can say."
The loss was Hernandez's second in a row despite lasting eight innings. The Vols (9-10, 1-3 SEC) have not won on the road this season.
Florida (12-7, 1-3) trailed 2-1 for most of the game, and Tennessee was in command until the eighth inning.
"We totally outplayed them," Tennessee coach Todd Raleigh said. "We outpitched them, we outhit them. … They really didn't even threaten the whole game."
But several fluky plays kept the Gators in the game.
Florida got a huge double play in the sixth when Cody Hawn hit a hard line drive right into the glove of first baseman Preston Tucker. Tucker threw to second base to retire Kentrail Davis, who was already on his way to third base.
Blake Forsythe followed with a triple to right field that would have scored Davis and added to Tennessee's lead. Forstythe scored on the next play to make it 2-0.
Florida also benefitted in the sixth from a double that dropped into shallow center field when the stadium lights got in Davis' eyes. The Gators got their first run two batters later.
"We had 10 hits, they made two errors, but we only scored 2 runs," Raleigh said. "It's just one of those things. … That's the way things have been going for us all year."
Forsythe had two hits to raise is average to .438. Hawn was 2-4 with a solo home run in the first that tied him for the team lead at nine with Forsythe. The former South-Doyle High School standout is hitting .316 with a team-high 29 RBIs.
Batting third and fourth, Hawn and Forsythe are becoming a tough stretch for any pitcher to face in the middle of the Tennessee order.
"We've been swinging the bat good at the same time," Hawn said. "Blake's been hitting the ball good all year, and I sort of run into a couple balls here and there."
The series continues today at 4 p.m.