Following a tough draw against Paul Skenes and LSU in the first round, Tennessee was faced with elimination on Monday in Omaha. Pac-12 regular season champ Stanford was standing in their way, and the Volunteers dug themselves an early hole.
Tennessee wasted an early chance to hit the scoreboard in the top of the first, failing to get a run home on a sacrifice fly. Maui Ahuna was thrown out at home, as Griffin Merritt’s fly ball fizzled in the wind. The play wasn’t particularly close, and we stayed a 0-0.
Chase Dollander found trouble in the bottom of the first. One strike away from getting out of it, Alberto Rios drove in Stanford’s first run. A throwing error on a stolen base attempt would plate another.
Stanford came out of the inning with an early 2-0 lead on Tennessee.
The Vols fought back in the top of the second with a couple of singles, but Christian Scott and Cal Stark struck out to strand two men on.
The Cardinal added two in the bottom of the third, moving out to a 4-0 lead.
Finally, in the top of the fifth, the Tennessee offense arrived. A Zane Denton single was followed by a Cal Stark single was followed by a Maui Ahuna single. With the bases loaded, Hunter Ensley came up with a sacrifice fly to get Tennessee on the board. Jared Dickey singled up the middle to score another. Christian Moore singled to score two more.
Very quickly, we had a tie game at 4-4.
Tennessee chased Stanford starter Quinn Mathews through all of that, making it a bullpen game from there. The Volunteers had a fresh Chase Burns on the mound after Dollander was pulled following just three innings of work.
Tennessee and Stanford were tied at 4-4 after six innings of play.
Griffin Merritt walked, then Blake Burke doubled. Tennessee had runners on second and third, set to make an improbable comeback. Zane Denton delivered. Denton drove a run in on a ground out, giving Tennessee a 5-4 lead.
A wild pitch gave Tennessee another run, scoring Blake Burke. The Volunteers had a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Chase Burns breezed through the seventh and eighth innings without issue.
It was up to him to finish the job, and that exactly what he did. Burns threw six full innings, and the offense took care of him to secure the win to advance.
Tennessee advances to take on the loser of LSU-Wake Forest in another elimination game tomorrow (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).