Tennessee aces Evansville in winner-take-all game three, advances to second straight College World Series  

By Griffin Hadley, Sports Director

No. 1 Tennessee baseball punched their ticket to a second straight College World Series after winning the Knoxville Super Regional in three games. Photo Credit: Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball dominated Evansville in typical Tennessee baseball fashion, mashing homers and getting a career performance from Zander Sechrist.

In front of arguably the loudest crowd in the history of Lindsey Nelson Stadium, the Vols launched seven home runs, booking Tennessee’s ticket to Omaha.  

“Congrats to our fans for sure,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said post-game. “Definitely the loudest it’s ever been in here.”  

Evansville scored their only run of the day after taking advantage of multiple Tennessee mistakes in the top of the first. Despite two Sechrist strikeouts, the Vols bobbled two infield grounders that were converted into base hits.  

It was a full-team effort and a complete game for the Vols, and Tennessee has once again punched their ticket to Omaha with an exclamation point in their home park.  

Brent Widder took advantage of the miscues, squeezing through an RBI single to put the Purple Aces on the board.  

Tennessee set the Lindsey Nelson crowd on fire in the bottom of the first and never looked back, grabbing on to all the momentum that would never be squandered the rest of the contest.  

Christian Moore started things off for Tennessee by mashing a lead-off solo homer over 420 feet over the left-field wall.  

After a quick top half of the second, Dean Curley gave Tennessee the lead with a solo shot of his own, sending another ball into the porches.  

In the very next at-bat, Dalton Bargo joined in on the fun, sending a shot over the right-center wall in his first appearance of the super-regional.  

After back-to-back walks, Evansville made a move to the pen, ending Kevin Reed’s day after just one in a third.  

Blake Burke knocked a double into left field and scored Cal Stark from second, extending the Tennessee lead to 4-1. Burke would end up four for five on the day, including three doubles.  

Evansville threatened in the fourth, loading the bases and turning over the order with two outs. However, Sechrist fed off the energy from the crowd, working out of the jam and igniting Lindsey Nelson Stadium.  

The fans proved to be a huge factor all night long, rising to their feet on each two-strike count that the Vols pitchers found themselves in.  

In the bottom of the fourth, the Vols reignited the offensive flame, going yard three more times.  

Bargo led off with yet another homer, giving the Vols the most production they have received all weekend in the designated hitter spot.  

Moore followed it up with another bomb into the batter’s eye, and Billy Amick sent one over the batter’s eye, bringing the Tennessee total to six homers on the day. The Vols put up another four-run spot in the fourth, jumping out to an eight-run lead.  

In the top of the fifth, Sechrist was dealing once again, and the one, two, three inning was highlighted by a gnarly backwards K for out number three.  

Kavares Tears found center field with a bloop single to start the bottom half of the fifth, and Curley got plunked to put another runner on. Cal Stark proceeded to punish the Aces, sending Tennessee’s seventh home run over the wall.  

The Vols continued their dominance on the mound through the sixth and seventh innings as Sechrist finished out his historic outing with a standing ovation from the crowd.  

“This is his home.” Vitello said. “There’s been good times, there’s been bad times, but there’s always fun times when Zander’s around.  

After the lefty’s six and a third, Nate Snead took over in relief, building on what Sechrist started. Snead bounced back after a tough performance yesterday, allowing zero runs and just one Evansville base runner in his one and a third innings of work.  

The Vols failed to add runs in each of the six and the seventh, but the game was all but wrapped up early on. 

In the top of the ninth Kirby Connell started things off for Tennessee on the bump. The Vols all-time leader in appearances secured one out and exited the field to another standing ovation from Vol nation. 

Marcus Phillips relieved Connell of his duties and closed it out for the Vols, booking Tennessee’s ticket to Omaha. 

The number one overall national seed is heading back to the College World Series for the third time in four years, and Tony Vitello’s ball club will have another crack at a national title.