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College World Series: LSU sends Tennessee to the losers bracket with 6-3 win

Paul Skenes was just too much.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-LSU vs Tennessee Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

One look at the bracket and you knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Sure enough, it wasn’t. Drawing LSU in the College World Series opener meant drawing Paul Skenes, the future No. 1 overall selection in the upcoming MLB Draft.

Skenes has been dominant all season long, and that meant Tennessee likely needed a superhuman performance from Andrew Lindsey to hang in this one. Unfortunately, LSU got to Lindsey early.

A Gavin Dugas solo shot got the scoring started in the bottom of the second inning, giving LSU a quick 1-0 lead on Lindsey. It was a sinker that didn’t quite sink enough, and Dugas crushed it.

LSU would get two runners on to start the bottom of the third, with nobody out. The Tigers came up with a swinging bunt to advance them to second and third, then Tre’ Morgan was able to knock one in on a single up the middle that was knocked down by Lindsey. Lindsey battled back to work out of the jam, but a 2-0 lead for LSU felt pretty large with Paul Skenes on the mound.

The LSU momentum continued in the fourth. Ducas walked, then Brayden Jobert doubled to put runners on second and third. Lindsey came up with a strikeout to get the second out, and his night would be finished after that.

Tony Vitello went to his bullpen after 72 pitches from Lindsey. Aaron Combs got a strikeout to get out of the inning.

Skenes rolled through the top of the fifth, ringing up his ninth strikeout of the night to keep LSU’s 2-0 lead. Seth Halvorsen took over on the mound to start the bottom of the fifth and breezed through his first frame.

Nothing doing for Tennessee in the sixth, as Skenes pushed up to 83 pitches on the night.

Halvorsen walked Hayden Travinski, then found trouble with a wild pitch. Jobert tripled off the base of the wall and Jordan Thompson singled to follow that. Just like that it was a 4-0 game, and Vitello opted to go to the bullpen again. Kirby Connell shut things down to close out the sixth.

Camden Sewell entered and was met with a blooper that turned into a double for Dylan Crews. Tommy White singled, then Tre’ Morgan would drive in Crews on a sac fly.

LSU took a 5-0 lead into the eighth inning.

Finally, Tennessee got a runner in scoring position — the first of the night. Christian Scott doubled, giving the Vols something to work with. Maui Ahuna — fighting a comically large strike zone — overcame all of that to single up the middle and score Scott.

LSU pulled Skenes after that, and Hunter Ensley smashed one over the wall. An instant turnaround, Tennessee now trailed just 5-3.

Christian Moore struck out looking on another ... questionable ... couple of called strikes. The zone was large all night long, and it was somehow growing as the night went on.

Brayden Jobert would get one back immediately to start the bottom of the eighth. He unloaded on one from Hollis Fanning, making this a 6-3 game.

Tennessee was down to three outs, and LSU stuck with Riley Cooper on the mound. Cooper rolled through Zane Denton and Griffin Merritt, but Blake Burke got on with an error. Christian Scott lined up up the middle — right to Cooper on the mound, who made the play.

Final Score: LSU 6, Tennessee 3

What’s next for Tennessee in the College World Series?

Tennessee now faces elimination on Monday afternoon. They’ll face Stanford with the season on the line after the Cardinal fell to Wake Forest earlier on Saturday. That matchup is set for 2 p.m. ET on Monday in Omaha.

You have to feel decent about Tennessee’s outlook, despite the loss. The Vols ran into Paul Skenes tonight, but they’ve got Chase Dollander, Drew Beam and Chase Burns all fresh and ready to roll with the season on the line over the next couple of games.