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Tony Vitello explains Maui Ahuna injury absence against Florida

On3-Social-Profile_GRAYby:On3 Staff Report04/07/23

As Florida and Tennessee meet for Game 2 of a weekend series, the Volunteers do so with a Maui Ahuna injury sidelining the star shortstop for the game.

Ahuna warmed up with the team but was struggling and Tennessee had to scratch him late.

“Yeah, he was penciled in and then at some point during pregame, the other coaches — I was with the outfielders — the other coaches recognized on the infield it just wasn’t what it needed to be,” coach Tony Vitello explained on the SEC Network’s broadcast of the game. “They had a conversation with him and then our trainer told us he couldn’t go.”

Before his injury, Maui Ahuna had started in 21 games for Tennessee this season, hitting .288 with five home runs.

He was a prized offseason acquisition from Kansas via the transfer portal.

“Rather than give you a Bill Belichick answer I’ll at least tell you it’s something to do with the back side of his body,” Vitello said. “I honestly don’t know, I just knew we had to scramble and change our pregame stuff and come up with a new lineup.”

Ahuna played for Tennessee in the first game of the series against Florida on Thursday night. He went 1-of-4 at the plate, walked once and struck out twice.

Even then, though, Maui Ahuna wasn’t quite feeling right with the injury.

“Last night he had to play in the six-hole,” Vitello said. “Normally he makes, but he didn’t, I don’t know if you remember it or not. So he’d been ailing for a few days and been battling through it, but tonight we’ve got to go with the guys we got out there.”

Florida led 9-2 in the top of the fifth inning at the time of this writing. The Gators won the opening game in the series 6-1 as the Volunteers struck out 18 times.