UF pitching struggled on Saturday as the Gators fell to Tennessee. 

The Volunteers played spoiler on Senior Day.

Tennessee erupted for five runs in the top of the fifth to gain a comfortable three-run lead over the Gators.

It never relinquished it, defeating Florida 8-7 and evening the series at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium on Saturday.

UT (34-17, 11-15 SEC) opened the scoring in the top of the first, when third baseman Andre Lipcius sent a 1-2 pitch from UF starter Jack Leftwich over the stands in left. He tied his career high in hits with four, going 4 for 5 with a home run, a double and three RBIs.

Florida (30-22, 10-16 SEC) answered quickly during the bottom half of the inning, however, as shortstop Brady McConnell smashed his 13th home run of the season, a 422-foot bomb to left center.

McConnell hit two long balls on Saturday, both solo shots. He'd go 2 for 5, upping his RBI count to 43 for the year.

"We just need to win as many games as we can," McConnell said, referring to the team's mentality moving forward. "See if we can give ourselves a chance to do something."

The Gators scored two runs off an RBI double by first baseman Kendrick Calilao to take a 3-1 advantage in the bottom of the fourth.

The lead was short lived, though, due to the five-run offensive showing by the Volunteers in the top of the fifth.

Leftwich (4.1 innings, four hits, three earned runs, two walks, five strikeouts) was replaced by UF reliever Ben Specht, but things got worse after coach Kevin O'Sullivan made the move.

Specht faced three batters, giving up hits to all three, allowing three Tennessee players to score.

"Bottom line is, when we get momentum and score some runs, pitchers have to go out there and put up a zero," O'Sullivan said. "It's frustrating. It's not like they don't know."

UF fought back in the sixth and seventh innings. It cut a four-run Vols lead to one in the seventh after scoring four runs combined during that portion of the game.

A two-run shot to left by right fielder Wil Dalton cut the lead to 7-5 in the sixth. In the next inning, Smith and McConnell each collected an RBI to trim the Tennessee advantage to 8-7.

That score held up until the bottom of the ninth, when UF put together an opportunity to tie or take the lead.

Left fielder Austin Langworthy led off the inning with a single to right, and Dalton smacked a base hit between the shortstop and third base with two outs to put runners on first and second for Calilao.

The freshman battled, but a flyout to deep left center ended both the threat and the game.

The Gators, who currently sit on the NCAA Tournament bubble, will look to improve their resume and win their final home regular season home game on Sunday.

"We've put ourselves in a tough position with 10 wins in the league," O'Sullivan said. "We need some guys to step up, and we just haven't been able to do it for whatever reason."

Follow Evan Lepak on Twitter @evanmplepak. Contact him at [email protected].

Evan Lepak is a Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida. Evan is the assistant sports editor and is currently covering UF men's basketball. He has been with the Alligator since Summer 2018.