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Vols’ baseball game recap: Tennessee beats Clemson 6-5, advances to winner’s bracket in a wild 14-inning affair

The Vols stay in the winner’s bracket!

Tennessee v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

After yesterday’s win against Charlotte, I said the Vols would need a similar outing from Chase Dollander to have a chance against Clemson.

Well, they didn’t get the performance from Dollander they’d hoped for, as he lasted just 4.1 innings and gave up 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 Ks.

But it ended up not mattering, as once the Clemson pulled starter Caden Grice, the Vols pulled out a 6-5 win in 14 innings thanks in large part to two home runs from Zane Denton and two fantastic outings from Chase Burns and Seth Halvorsen from the bullpen.

Tennessee took the lead in the T4 off another home run from Christian Moore, who’s been absolutely integral to the offensive production.

Dollander had only given up three hits and no walks through four innings, but in the fifth, the Tiger took control of the game with two-straight singles and a subsequent three-run home run from Tiger lead-off man Cam Cannarella. Dollander got the next out, but walked another batter and Vitello pulled him for Chase Burns. Buns gave up a run-scoring double before ending the fifth wih two ground-ball outs.

Clemson’s starter Caden Brice, who also started at first, dominated the Tennessee bats through his 8.1 of of his 8.2 IP. He gave up 6 H (all with two outs), 4 ER, 1 BB and K’d 10.

Prior to the ninth, Brice had given up two runs — the HR to Moore in the fourth and then another solo shot from Zane Denton in the T7.

Two of the four runs Grice allowed were actually given up by Ryan Ammons, the reliever who gave up the bomb to Deton you’re about to see.

Grice went out in the ninth to try and finish out the complete game, but the Vols struck again with two outs. Christian Moore singled, Blake Burke singled, and then Zane Denton unloaded on a ball for Tennessee’s first hit with a man on base in the form of a three-run home run that put the Vols ahead 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

Unfortunately, Burns couldn’t hold the lead and bring home the win. A lead-off double followed by two strikeouts started the frame, but then the leadoff man at second advanced to third on a passed ball. Then Cannarella tied the game with a run-scoring double that sent the game into extra innings.

The bats wasted a leadoff single from Maui Ahuna in the top of the 10th, and then things looked like they were about to go FUBAR in the bottom half of the inning.

Vitello kept Burns in, and Caden Grice led the half-frame off with a lead-off single. Then Burns walked the next batter and hit the one after that to load the bases. Burns struck out seven-hole hitter Blake Wright, and then the defense came through huge with an inning-ending double play.

Again, UT wasted a lead-off hit in the T11 from Christian Moore when he roped a double down the RF line. Ethan Payne laid down a bunt that put Moore at third with one out, but Clemson put Denton on first intentionally then struck out Christian Scott on a fastball right down the middle. Dylan Dreiling came in to pinch hit, tipped a dribbler to first, and Caden Grice fielded it and laid out all of his 6-6 frame to tag the bag and get Dreiling out at first to end the half inning.

Vitello let Burns come out again for the 11th, and he struck out the lead-off hitter before walking Cannarella. Ingle grounded out on the first pitch he saw, then Burns walked three-hole hitter Will Taylor. That was finally enough to pull Burns, and Seth Halvorsen struck out Caden Grice to end the inning on a nasty curveball.

Let’s take a moment to look at Burns’ outing out of the bullpen: He threw 99 pitches in 6.1 IP, allowed 6 H, 1 ER, 4 BB and struck out eight Tigers in the process. His ability to stymie the Clemson offense after their four-run fifth is impossible to overstate. He hadn’t thrown more than three innings since the game against Vandy on 4/21. Just a fantastic performance from Burns today.

Both teams did nothing in the 12th, and it started to feel like we were gonna be here all night.

Tennessee loaded the bases in the T13 and then ended the inning on a double-play ball from Christian Scott. The Vols stranded five combined runners in innings 10, 11 and 13.

In the top of the 14th, Ahuna worked a full-count walk, and then Hunter Ensley, who was 0-6 in the game prior to this point, smacked a double on an 0-1 pitch to the right-center wall that scored Ahuna, all the way from first, to give the Vols a 6-5 lead. At this point, Clemson was running out of pitchers, and Tennessee was running out of position players. Vitello brought in Kavares Tears to pinch hit, but he struck out on four pitches. That was a huge out — with two on, going from one out to two.

Christian Scott worked a walk to load the bases, but Ethan Payne struck out swinging to end the half inning. Eight stranded runners since the 10th inning.

Seth Halvorsen worked the bottom of the 14th, facing hitters two-through-four. Halvorsen got a lead-off groundout, then threw a five-pitch walk to Will Taylor, who stole second immediately. And then the biggest play of the game — Halvorsen struck out Caden Grice looking on a full-count, back-door breaking ball.

Taylor stole third in the process, but it was all for naught when Halvorsen induced a fly-ball out to end the game.

Tennessee’s bullpen performance was crucial to the win, especially since Dollander got chased from the game so quickly. I don’t know what wrong with Lil’ Doe, but he’s leaning toward being a liability in the rotation. He went from being the best pitcher in the country last year to a 4.28 season ERA with a 6-6 record in 14 appearances so far this season. He’s worst among the three starters in ERA, record, earned runs, walks allowed, home runs given up and extra-base hits allowed.

Chase Burns and Seth Halvorsen combined for 9.2 IP and 11 Ks. Halvorsen pitched 3.1 innings and didn’t allow a hit or a run and walked just one while striking out three. 63 of Burns’ 99 pitches went for strikes, and 27 of Halvorsen’s 42 were called strikes.

Tennessee used just three pitchers, while Clemson used 10, even after its starter went 8.2 IP. None of its relievers threw more than 20 pitches, but the Tigers gotta play two games tomorrow to win the regional, and using that many pitchers tonight certainly didn’t help their cause.

With the win, Tennessee gets to rest tomorrow morning and play the winner of the Charlotte/ Clemson game that starts at noon. Then the the Vols play at 6 PM.