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Requiem for a Tuesday: Vols looking to bounce back in Omaha against Texas

Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream” is a dramatic tale about happiness gained and happiness lost. Dramatic though it may be, folks in Knoxville will likely find Tuesday’s tilt between the Tennessee Volunteers and Texas Longhorns much more dramatic.

Tennessee’s first foray with elimination came earlier than we hoped, but perhaps later than we expected. Coming into their Sunday afternoon game against the Virginia Cavaliers, the odds-on-favorite were those Vols, the ones who’d managed to win 50 games during their 2021 campaign.

Slowly, and then all at once, the hopes of a surgical-like victory passed with each inning. Tennessee’s staggering offense, well, staggered, looking abysmal all the while. They looked lost against the Cavaliers’ Andrew Abbott, who earned 10 strikeouts over six innings of work. A 1-0 game quickly saw itself catapult into a 5-0 affair in the seventh inning. A 6-0 shutout is how things would end — not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Who would’ve predicted that both UTs — the real one, Tennessee, and the one of the Texas variety — would be battling for their Omaha lives in their second game of the College World Series. Baseball, though finicky, can sometimes feel predictable in given certain arrangements. I, like many others, was of the persuasion that both the Volunteers and Longhorns would stroll to game one wins, the former more easily than the latter.

But now, for the first time in the tournament, Tennessee has its back against the wall, attempting to stave off a ticket back to Knoxville, empty-handed. The trouble here is not just the prospect of seeing the “base-Vols” head home; it’s the entire nature of the situation underlining the event. Famously, Tennessee has become the home of programs known to “choke” when games matter most. Losing game one to Virginia didn’t do much to curtail such stereotypes.

The road ahead is a long one, not easily traversed, but manageable, nonetheless. A win against Texas would put Tennessee in a second elimination game, either as a rematch against Virginia or a first time tango in this venue with Mississippi State, a team the Vols beat 12-2 during the SEC Tournament. Take nothing for granted, but one would have to assume that Tennessee would be better prepared to weather the Cavaliers the second time around.

I need to mention Parks and Recreation’s Ben Wyatt before departing, who, while drudging through difficult times, found solace in creating a clay-mation production, “Requiem for a Tuesday,” a short, ill-conceived fool’s attempt at art, in which he catastrophically failed, by all accounts.

Aronofsky’s film elicits a sense of drama which many will hope to experience Tuesday afternoon in Omaha, but the ending sours the middle, something to be avoided for Tennessee. But Wyatt’s interpretation would also be calamitous for the Volunteers, resulting in a swift exit after finally opening the doors to Omaha. Let’s hope neither makes an appearance against Texas.