Tennessee’s unforgettable and historic baseball season is officially over. The Volunteers collected 57 wins throughout the entirety of the season compared to just nine losses.
Led by head coach Tony Vitello, Tennessee ended the regular season as the SEC Champions and carried that momentum to an SEC Tournament championship just a week later.
The Vols’ season was ended at the hands of Notre Dame in the Knoxville Super Regional this past weekend. After Notre Dame took the first game on Friday, Tennessee bounced back for a dominant victory in game two on Saturday. However, on Sunday, Notre Dame was able to find the final victory to end Tennessee’s season and advance the Fighting Irish to the College World Series.
Below are the weekend quotes from Notre Dame regarding Tennessee on the diamond.
Vol Baseball: The College Baseball World Might Not Like Tennessee, But Knoxville Loves the Vols
Friday – Notre Dame 8, Tennessee 6
Notre Dame HC Link Jarrett –
On what he learned about Tennessee [Friday]…
“We studied the scout so much. It’s about what we thought going in. They’re really, really good. Last year, we were in Starkville, Mississippi, and your kind of dealing with a similar feel in the stadium. Our guys understood that. They were ready for that. We talked about trying to channel between what’s going on on that field, but they are really good. They have left handers and right handers. You try to balance the bullpen, decide when to match up, and who’s the best matchup with their righty, lefty, righty. I don’t know if it was completely staggered, but there’s only a couple of righties in a row that are bunched in there. It’s tough and we knew that trying to stay up with it as the game is evolving and choosing the right guy who may not be the correct move in the bullpen. That’s tricky. They’re really, really good. We got thrown 102 miles an hour. You don’t see that every day. They’re balanced, a couple of lefties, a couple of good power ratings, and it’s really tough. They’re what I thought, and when we play the way we played tonight, we can beat that team. If we don’t play that way, they can clearly beat us. So, they’re what I thought: talented, good, well-coached and balanced.”
Saturday – Tennessee 12, Notre Dame 4
Notre Dame HC Link Jarrett
On Chase Dollander…
“(Chase) Dollander threw a great game. He really had four pitches in play. The velocity—we knew coming in—has a life of its own. It was sneaky. I thought his fastball usage was good to both sides of the plate and occasionally up. The cutter was fine. He flipped the breaking ball in there. On the lefties, he got some changeups, and then later, I think some of the righties got some changeups. When you have a guy that is 96-98 (with his fastball) with a cutter at 86-88 and a breaking pitch and changeup, your work is cut out for you. We couldn’t evade the fifth inning. That was clearly the difference in the game.”
Notre Dame Senior Pitcher John Michael Bertrand
On Tennessee’s lineup…
“Yeah, we definitely knew going in that it’s a good lineup that can do a lot of damage. I kind of evaded it the first inning and was able to go pretty well for about three or four innings there. Then the fifth, I was just kind of getting behind in at bats. Hats off to them, being able to hit my misses. They’re a good ballclub and can do a lot of damage.”
Notre Dame Senior Left Fielder Jack Zyska
On facing Chase Dollander…
“Just the mix of stuff. We had our game plan this morning. Stuff was live. Obviously, you guys saw it. I was able to kind of execute that better than some of the guys in the lineup, but the fastball and the changeup where we wanted it. It was definitely tough to string quality at bats together.”
Sunday – Notre Dame 7, Tennessee 3
Notre Dame HC Link Jarrett
On his advice for Tennessee’s team…
“No, I don’t. I see a just extremely talented team—that whole lineup. I think you could almost pull it out of a hat and draw (a dangerous) lineup. They’re so deep and talented and physical, and they can run and they defend, and the arms that they’re running at you… My advice is just keep it up like that. You can’t build a better machine than what it appears we were facing. And I wanted our guys to feel the reality of you don’t have to beat that machine and what they did all season. You have to win two of these three games. So that’s how we looked at it. How they looked at it? I don’t know. (Tony Vitello) clearly has this thing in an exceptional position with the players, and they’re well-coached. They’re a talented, talented team.”
Notre Dame Third Baseman Jack Brannigan
On playing with an extra edge after Ryan Cole’s statement saying Tennessee should be worried…
“I don’t know if it was so much what Ryan said, but I mean, we all have social media and we’ve seen Tennessee all over our social media all year. I think that going up against the No. 1 team in the country like that just kind of gives you that extra edge. We were so close last year, and we didn’t want to have the same feeling as last year. I think that’s the edge that you saw that we played with this weekend.”