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Vols return to Regional action Saturday afternoon vs. Liberty

Drew Gilbert’s late-night heroics against Wright State Friday helped earn Tennessee a spot in the winners’ bracket of the Knoxville Regional. The sophomore’s walk-off grand slam lifted No. 2 Tennessee to a dramatic come-from-behind, 9-8 victory over the Raiders inside a sold out Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 5:36 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Drew Gilbert’s late-night heroics against Wright State Friday helped earn Tennessee a spot in the winners’ bracket of the Knoxville Regional. The sophomore’s walk-off grand slam lifted No. 2 Tennessee to a dramatic come-from-behind, 9-8 victory over the Raiders inside a sold out Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The win moved Tennessee into the winner’s bracket to face Liberty Saturday at 6 p.m. The Flames knocked Duke into the losers’ bracket Friday afternoon with some help from designated hitter Brady Gulakowski. The junior ripped two three-run home runs as Liberty topped the No. 19th-ranked Blue Devils, 11-6.

The Volunteers enter the tournament as the No. 3 national seed and are hosting a regional for the first time since 2005. Duke, Liberty and Wright State make up the remaining squads in the Knoxville Regional.

NCAA KNOXVILLE REGIONAL SCHEDULE

Friday, June 4

Game 1: Liberty 11 - Duke 6

Game 2: Tennessee 9 - Wright State 8

Saturday, June 5

Game 3: Duke - Wright State

Game 4: Tennessee vs. Liberty

Sunday, June 6

Game 5: G3 Winner vs. G4 Loser | 2 p.m.

Game 6: G4 Winner vs. G5 Winner | 6 p.m.

Monday, June 7 (If Necessary)

Game 7: G6 Winner vs. G6 Loser | 1 p.m.

BROADCAST INFO

TV/Stream: ACC Network / ESPN3 / ESPN App

Talent: Mark Neely (PxP), Adam Greenberg (Analyst)

Radio: Vol Network (FM 99.1 / AM 990)

Talent: John Wilkerson & Vince Ferrara

NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY

Appearances: 10 (Last in 2019)

Regional Record: 21-15 (.583)

Knoxville Regional Record: 14-5 (.737)

College World Series Appearances: 4 (1951, 1995, 2001, 2005)

This will be UT’s 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its first back-to-back appearance since 2004 and 2005.

NEED TO KNOW

For the first time since 2005, Tennessee is hosting an NCAA Regional at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Tennessee holds a 33-23 record all time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 21-15 record in regional play.

This will be sixth NCAA Regional that the Vols have hosted in program history. In the previous five occasions (1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2005), UT has won the regional three times and went on to make the College World Series (1995, 2001, 2005).

Tennessee is coming off its best showing at the SEC Tournament in recent memory after advancing all the way to the championship game for the first time since 1995 and the first time since the tournament started including both divisions in 1996.

This has been a season of “first since” including, Tennessee winning its first SEC Eastern Division Championship since 1997 and its first outright division title since 1995.

Tennessee’s 42 regular-season wins were its most since winning 43 in 1995. UT has won 40-plus games in back-to-back full seasons for the first time since 2000 and 2001.

The Vols’ 20-10 record in league play was their best since finishing 22-8 in 1995. UT’s winning record in league play was its first since 2005.

The Vols are 13-8 against ranked teams this season after a pair of wins over ranked foes in Hoover.

Since Tony Vitello became UT’s head coach in 2018, the Vols have posted 31 wins over ranked foes, including 14 victories over teams ranked in the top 10 and three wins over top-ranked teams (Arkansas in 2021, Texas Tech in 2020 and Florida in 2018).

After winning series against No. 15 South Carolina, No. 9 Florida, No. 14 LSU (sweep) and No. 7 Georgia this year, UT has now won eight series over ranked opponents since 2018 (four in 2021).

Tennessee recorded its third victory over a top-ranked team under Vitello with an 8-7 win vs. No. 1 Arkansas on May 15.

The Vols are one of the top power hitting teams in the SEC and the nation this season, blasting 82 home runs, the third most ever in a single season at UT and the most since hitting 87 in 2009.

UT’s 82 homers rank 11th nationally and its 45 home runs in conference games this season ranked third in the SEC.

UT has homered in 22 of its past 25 games and has left the yard multiple times on 12 occasions in that span. Four of those multi-homer games featured four or more long balls.

The Vols are ranked in the top 15 nationally in runs (7th – 431), hits (4th – 597), doubles (6th – 123), home runs (11th - 82) and walks (5th – 311).

The Vols posted back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts in run-rule victories over Mississippi State (12-2) and Alabama (11-0) on Thursday and Friday last week. UT has scored 10 or more runs 17 times this season and is a perfect 17-0 when doing so.

UT’s offense was red-hot at the end of the regular season, scoring 116 runs over its last five SEC series against No. 15 South Carolina (17), No. 1 Arkansas (15), Missouri (26), Kentucky (27) and Texas A&M (31).

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