Wouldn’t you know it? After a wildly inconsistent and frustrating regular season, the Tennessee Volunteers are headed to Omaha. Tennessee beat Southern Miss in the early hours of Tuesday morning after a weather delay, finishing off the Golden Eagles 2-1 in the three game series.
How Tennessee beat Southern Miss in Game Three
An infield single, a walk and a jam shot got Tennessee going in the bottom of the second inning. Griffin Merritt just fought one off and it ended up dribbling past the first baseman to sneak into the outfield. Christian Moore would score to give Tennessee a 1-0 lead.
The Vols stuck to that same script in the third, getting two base-runners on with no outs. This time though, Southern Miss starter Niko Mazza danced out of trouble without any damage. The Tennessee bats added just one run through all of that, but you felt like it was a missed opportunity to add a couple of more there in the second and third innings.
Tennessee left four men on in those two frames, leaving a pretty empty feeling despite the 1-0 lead.
Drew Beam kept things scoreless through four innings, but he had to work for it. The Golden Eagles had opportunities of their own, but Beam’s nasty Slurve was working early on, keeping Southern Miss off the board.
Tennessee would once again get two on in the bottom of the fifth, but this time they didn’t miss. Zane Denton blasted one to right center to give the Vols a 4-0 cushion on a three-run homer. It was No. 16 on the year for Denton, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Beam continued to roll, getting through the sixth with ease, but his pitch count was creeping towards 100. Tony Vitello let him start the seventh, and Southern Miss responded with two straight hits. With runners at the corners, Vitello went to his bullpen. He called on Aaron Combs to take over in a big spot with no outs.
Combs got a strikeout, then gave way to Chase Burns, who was absolutely electric. 99, 100, 102 is what the gun read as Burns ended the Golden Eagles’ threat.
Maui Ahuna rubbed salt in the wound, knocking a solo homerun over the left center wall to make it 5-0.
Burns would continue on the mound, needing six outs to punch Tennessee’s ticket to Omaha. He had it all going tonight — the triple-digit velocity, the breaking ball — good luck. Southern Miss had no answers.
To the ninth we went. Burns started the final inning with a walk, but recovered to force a pop out. He forced another pop out with two on, then got a lineout to end things.
Final Score: Tennessee 5, Southern Miss 0
Southern Miss racked up seven hits, but came away with no runs to show for it. The Golden Eagles just couldn’t string them together on Monday night, ultimately dooming their season. Drew Beam and Chase Burns came up big for the Volunteers tonight, despite putting plenty of men on base.
This will be College World Series appearance No. 6 all-time for Tennessee. They’ll draw LSU first in Omaha.
2023 College World Series Field