Halfway through the SEC season, first-year coach Dave Serrano’s Tennessee baseball squad has equaled its conference-win total from a year ago.
The Vols (21-15, 7-8 SEC) dropped two of three games to visiting No. 4 Florida (28-8, 9-6 SEC) this weekend, but Saturday’s 5-4 win gave UT its seventh SEC victory, a mark the 2011 squad did not reach until its final game.
Saturday’s win was UT’s fifth on the season against a ranked opponent.
Despite the improvement, Serrano’s focus remains on what lies ahead.
“I don’t look back to last year,” Serrano said. “I’m only looking forward and I’m proud of these guys, of what we’ve been able to overcome.”
Coming off a 3-1 series-opening loss on Friday, the Vols had plenty to work through on Saturday alone.
Due to disciplinary reasons, Serrano was forced to retool his pitching plan, giving freshman Robbie Kidd his first career SEC start.
Florida touched him for four runs in the first four innings, but thanks to UT junior center fielder Chris Fritts, that would be all the offense the Gators would produce.
With runners on first and third and two outs in the fifth, Florida left fielder Justin Shafer lined a pitch from junior reliever Drew Steckenrider to left-center field. Two Gators were poised to cross the plate until Fritts went airborne to catch the ball and end the inning.
The effort earned Fritts the top spot on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.
“I was able to time it, leave my feet, and didn’t drop it,” Fritts said. “I actually thought I was going to drop that one whenever I hit the ground, but I held on.”
The Vols rode the momentum into the bottom half of the inning where freshman Richard Carter’s squeeze bunt scored senior Davis Morgan and put Tennessee ahead for good at 5-4.
It was Carter’s third RBI of the day and his second by virtue of a bunt.
“It’s always been something I’ve tried to take pride in, my bunting,” Carter said. “A lot of people will just throw it to the side.”
After three straight scoreless innings, Florida appeared poised to extend the game in the ninth when it loaded the bases with one out.
A grounder off the bat of Gators first baseman Vickash Ramjit straddled the third base line and required a diving stop from UT senior third baseman Zach Luther, who proceeded to turn a game-ending double play, stepping on third then firing to first to beat Ramjit.
 “I’m very proud of Zach Luther,” Serrano said. “First of all for the play he made, second for playing the ball out, not trying to umpire and assume whether it was fair or foul. He just played the play out like it was a fair ball.”
The win allowed the Vols an opportunity to clinch the series against the Gators, something UT has not done since 2008.
But Florida jumped on UT sophomore Nick Williams early, pounding out four first-inning runs en route to an 8-1 victory.
The series was the highest attended at UT since the Vols and Gators played in 1994, as 9,561 fans passed through the gates at Lindsey Nelson Stadium during the weekend’s three games.
 The Vols host East Tennessee State on Tuesday before traveling to face Mississippi State (21-15, 5-10 SEC) next weekend.