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Tennessee Baseball Knocks Off Southern Miss To Advance To Fourth Straight Super Regionals

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee baseball’s offense started slow before exploding in the back half of the game to propel the Vols past Southern Miss 12-3 and to their fourth straight super regional appearance.

Strong pitching despite some adversity, an impressive sixth inning response and more. Here’s how the Vols got it done to win the Knoxville Regional.

Gritty Zander Sechrist

Zander Sechrist retired the first seven Southern Miss batters to open the game. Things being that easy for Sechrist wouldn’t have been fitting though for the lefty who spent most of his career as a midweek starter.

The trouble started in the third inning when Southern Miss put two runners on with one-out with an eight-pitch walk and a Gabe Broadus bunt single. Then Southern Miss leadoff hitter Dalton McIntyre hit a chopper to first base. Blake Burke tried to get the runner at second but his throw hit Broadus in the head and trickled into center field allowing a run to score and Broadus to advance to third.

Southern Miss was in a golden spot to take its first lead of the game but Sechrist got out of the jam with a strikeout and then a pop out.

A greater challenge came to start the fourth inning when Davis Gillespie roped a 105 mph line drive off of Sechrist knee. The left-handed pitcher was down for a few minutes before getting up, doing some high knees and throwing some warm ups pitches before deciding to stay in the game. Sechrist got out of the inning quickly with a strikeout and a double play ball.

Sechrist was unable to overcome another dose of adversity in the fifth inning. First was a Billy Amick fielding error. Then, after a walk, what would have been an inning ending double play ball hit a baserunner. Ozzie Pratt gave Southern Miss the lead and ended Sechrist’s day an at-bat later with a double to right-center field.

Sechrist ended the day allowing three unearned runs, four hits and three walks while striking out three batters in 4.2 innings pitched.

More From RTI: How Zander Sechrist Elevated From Midweek To Weekend Starter In Senior Season

A Sixth Inning Answer

Southern Miss’ two-run fifth inning marked the first time Tennessee had trailed past the second inning all weekend. They didn’t wait long to respond.

Dylan Dreiling worked an impressive walk to lead off the inning than Hunter Ensley doubled down the left field line to give the Vols two runners in-scoring position with no one out. But it didn’t matter where the runners were when Kavares Tears launched a three-run homer to right field in the ensuing at-bat to reclaim the lead for Tennessee.

Tears’ 18th home run of the season ended Chandler Best’s relief outing and Josh Och came in and proceeded to hit the first two batters he faced and throw a wild pitch allowing them to advance to second and third. Och settled in really well after that but the Vols added one more run on a Christian Moore RBI groundout.

The four-run inning brought Lindsey Nelson Stadium alive and gave Tennessee a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.

Southern Miss Starts Running Out Of Pitching As The Vols Turn To Top Weapon

There’s a reason it’s extremely difficult for a team to claw out of the loser’s bracket after losing its first game in the regional.

As Tennessee scored four runs in the sixth inning, Southern Miss had to go to its bullpen. And as the Golden Eagles went to their third pitcher of the game and in their fourth game in three days, they were running out of quality arms.

Once the Vols’ high powered offense got things going in the sixth inning, they didn’t slow down. Tennessee added three more runs in seventh inning via home runs from Dylan Dreiling and Dean Curley. The Vols added three more runs in the ninth inning on a Cal Stark three-run homer.

As Southern Miss was running out of pitching, Tennessee was turning to one of its best pitchers. Nate Snead hadn’t thrown all weekend and he came into the game ready to eat outs. That’s exactly what he did.

The flame throwing right hander took Tennessee to the finish line, tossing 4.1 scoreless innings while striking out three batters.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee advances to the super regionals for the fourth straight year. The Vols will host either East Carolina or Evansville in the Knoxville Super Regional starting on either Friday or Saturday. The NCAA will announce the schedules on Monday night.

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