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Vols drop Super Regional game 1 to Notre Dame, 8-6

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAY 21 Tennessee at Mississippi State Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Just like that, Tennessee is potentially nine innings away from the end of its baseball season.

Starter Blade Tidwell gave up five runs on seven hits in the first three innings, and the offense went hitless outside Jordan Beck, Jorel Ortega and Trey Lipscomb en route to the 8-6 loss.

All five of the runs charged to Tidwell came via the long ball, as the meat of Notre Dame’s lineup feasted on Tidwell’s offerings. Tennessee’s sophomore starter had trouble missing the middle of the plate, and Note Dame’s Jared Miller, Carter Putz and Jack Zyska punished him for it.

Vitello let Tidwell finish the third, one out after Zyska’s two-run shot that took the score from 3-0 to 5-0, but the Vols fell further in the hole when Vitello went to Will Mabrey out of the bullpen.

Mabrey got the first out but then gave up a single to Brooks Coetzee, the eighth bat in Notre Dame’s lineup. A bunt single by Spencer Myers and a groundout by leadoff man Ryan Cole set the stage for a two-out, three-run home run by Jack Brannigan.

Tennessee’s offense had chances: in the bottom of the first, Jordan Beck hit into a double play after Seth Stephenson led off the frame with a hit and Luc Lipcius followed it with a walk. Though the bats got a run in the third, the score was more just a remnant of a wasted opportunity, as the inning started with two on and no out, again: Cortland Lawson led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch, which leadoff-man Seth Stephenson followed up with a walk. Jordan Beck drove a ball into the deepest part of the park and missed a three-run home run by a couple feet, which ended up sacrifice fly instead of a maybe-game-changing home run. Drew Gilbert lined out to end the inning a few pitches later.

Tennessee really out-Tennessee’d itself in the bottom of the fifth — after Ben Joyce held Notre Dame scoreless for the first time in the game in the top half of the frame, Beck worked a one-out walk, and Gilbert had a chance to chip into the Irish lead. Instead, he barked at the umpire for a questionable called strike two.

Here’s the view of the pitch from the other side:

Gilbert got ejected almost immediately, and he was followed, quickly, by Frank Anderson. Both are suspended one game, which means neither will be available for tomorrow’s series’-deciding game two.

Tennessee tried to make things respectable late, with a Jorel Ortega solo home run in the sixth and a two-out, two-RBI double from Trey Lipscomb in the seventh and a solo shot from Beck in the bottom of the ninth.

Last weekend, we saw the Vols squander scoring chances and make errors early in games only to recover with some late-inning awakenings from the bats. But on Friday, there wasn’t enough juice late in the game to overcome the two (official) defensive lapses and eight runners stranded. The Vols started the first, third, fourth and eighth innings with the leadoff man getting on base and had two men on before an out in the first and third innings but netted just two total runs from those chances.

Chase Dollander gets the ball for the Vols tomorrow with the season on the line, while Notre Dame saved its No. 1 starter and will throw leftie John Michael Bertrand, who’s 9-2 on the year.

Dollander was lit up for six hits and four runs in 2.2 innings his last time out against Campbell in the regional.