Irish take a 1-0 lead in Knoxville Super Regional
Notre Dame blasts 4 HR’s on the way to an 8-6 win over Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee will host Notre Dame in Knoxville for the first time since 1966. In the ‘66 season, the Vols pulled off a doubleheader sweep of the Irish in a pair of seven-inning contests.
The stakes are much bigger this time around as the Vols and Fighting Irish battle for a spot in the College World Series. So big, even VFL legend Peyton Manning is in the house.
Notre Dame would strike first in the top of the 1st on a 2-run HR by Carter Putz to deep right center field. The shot came off starter Blade Tidwell who would retire the rest of the side.
In the bottom half of the first, UT leadoff man Seth Stephenson would reach base and eventually make it all the way over to third, but Stephenson would be stranded there as Irish pitcher Austin Temple works his way out of trouble getting Drew Gilbert to ground out to 2nd to end the inning.
The Fighting Irish would tally again in the second inning and once again it would come courtesy of the long ball as Jared Miller takes Tidwell yard for a 3-0 Irish lead.
Bottom of the 2nd and the Tennessee’s bats are still not making a lot of noise. Jorel Ortega would reach on a single, UT’s second hit of the night, but he’d be stranded at first as once again Austin Temple avoids any kind of major trouble.
Lindsey Nelson Stadium has been the launching pad for the Vols this season, but so far on this Friday night it’s Notre Dame that’s launching baseball’s out of the park. For the third straight inning the Irish go deep, this time it’s designated hitter Jack Zyska who takes Tidwell deep to straight away right field. A two run blast making it 5-0 Irish heading to the bottom of the third.
Onto the 4th and the merry-go-round continues to turn for the Fighting Irish. With two out and two on Jack Brannigan takes reliever Will Mabry deep and over the porch in left field. The three run blast makes it 8-1 Notre Dame and the deficit is the last of the season for the Vols. Previous high was five runs in an 8-3 loss to Georgia back on May14th.
Trey Lipscomb would homer in the 4th, pulling Tennessee to within six runs at at 8-2, then came the fireworks in the 5th.
With a runner on, Drew Gilbert took a called third strike, but the center fielder disagreed with the call firing back at the home plate umpire. Gilbert was immediately tossed from the game, which means he’ll also have to miss Saturday’s second game. Also thrown out for arguing after charging on to the field was UT pitching coach Frank Anderson, who’ll also have to sit out Saturday’s game by NCAA rule. The inning would fizzle out after that leaving the score at 8-2 Irish.
The Vols bats would start to show some life, in the 6th it’s 2nd baseman Jorel Ortega going deep, his 18th big fly of the season as the Vols cut the lead to 8-3.
Then in the 7th it’s two out and two on for Trey Lipscomb. He doubles to left driving in those runs brining the Volunteers to within three at 8-5. Lipscomb would be stranded at second as Matt Bedford gets Ortega to strike out to end the inning. New life for the Vols though heading into the home stretch of this series opener.
Bedford would return for the bottom of the 8th and and once again stymie the Vol bats. With a runner at first he’d get Evan Russell (0-4 on the night) to strike out and then get Seth Stephenson to ground out on a bang-bang play at first. We head to the 9th with the Vols trailing by three.
Tennessee’s Jordan beck would add a solo HR in the 9th, but that was it as the Vols fall short losing to Notre Dame in game one of the Super Regional, 8-6.
Friday’s loss snapped an 11-game win streak for the Vols and was also the program’s first-ever loss in a super-regional game. UT entered the contest with a perfect 6-0 record in its three previous NCAA super regional appearances (2001, 2005, 2021).
Four players had multiple hits for the Fighting Irish, led by a 3-for-4 performance from Jared Miller. Jack Brannigan added two hits and led the team with three RBIs.
Right-hander Alex Rao picked up the win for the Irish after 3.2 innings of relief of starter Austin Temple. Freshman lefty Jack Findlay secured his third save of the season after allowing one run but striking out three over the final two innings.
Tennessee will look to bounce back on Saturday afternoon with its season on the line. First pitch for Saturday’s contest is slated for 2:06 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN. The Big Orange must win in order to keep their season alive, while a victory for the Irish would send them to Omaha for the College World Series.
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