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Tennessee Baseball Takes Knoxville Super Regional Opener Against Evansville

Photo by Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Underdog Evansville took advantage of a Tennessee miscue to score three runs to tie the games in the fifth inning. Top-seeded Tennessee had all the pressure on its shoulder, but they didn’t show it immediately answering and cruising to a 11-6 Knoxville Super Regional opening victory.

The win moves the Vols one win a way from the College Worls Series. Here’s how they got it done.

 Home Run Barrage

Evansville ace Kenton Deverman is a good left-handed arm who shut dow East Carolina last week. But Deverman’s fastball sits in the upper 90s and he’s a pitch to contact guy instead of a strike you out guy.

That style of pitching makes the room for error smaller, especially against a lineup as talented as Tennessee’s at a ballpark that plays as hitter friendly as Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Tennessee took advantage of a handful of Deverman mistakes and even made him pay for some solid pitches, blasting three home runs in his 4.2 innings pitched.

Blake Burke hit the Vols’ first home run of the day off the video board in the first inning. Christian Moore reclaimed the lead for Tennessee in the third inning, taking an outside fastball 417 feet to right center field for a two-run shot. Two batters later, Billy Amick hit a 429 foot homer halfway up the foul pole in left field.

Tennessee’s home run success slowed down after Deverman exited but it wasn’t over just yet. Hunter Ensley put the finishing touches on game one in the seventh inning when he smoked a three-run line drive home run with two-outs. The long ball extended Tennessee’s lead from three runs to six runs.

A Fifth Inning Seesaw

Tennessee was leading 5-2 and cruising right along in the fifth inning when Christian Moore booted a routine Ty Rumsey to give Evansville a one-out baserunner.

Evansville leadoff hitter Simon Scherry followed it up with a single to right field to give the Purple Aces runners on the corners for their two best hitters. Causey got the second out but Kip Fougerousse pulled an 0-2 breaking ball off the wall in left field to drive home a pair of runs. Chase Hug followed it up with a single up the middle to tie the game.

It was a huge inning from Evansville as they appeared to be slipping a bit. But as they have all season, Tennessee immediately responded.

Tennessee retook the lead three at-bats later after a Christian Moore walk and a Blake Burke double off the wall. But the Vols weren’t done at that point. Billy Amick legged out an infield single and then Brent Widder’s throw to first sailed into right field allowing Burke to throw.

Evansville went to top reliever Shane Harris with two-outs and a runner on second. The right-handed senior got ahead of Hunter Ensley 1-2 before the Vols’ center fielder went the other way for a RBI single.

The Purple Aces did what they needed to do, taking advantage of Tennessee mistakes. But the Vols showed why they’re so tough to deal with, immediately answering with three runs of their own.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of Tennessee Baseball’s Game One Win/Loss Against Evansville

Connell, Combs Shut Things Down In Back End

Tony Vitello made a proactive move away from Causey after the six innings on a day where the submarine pitcher was solid but not as sharp as he typically is.

Kirby Connell was next up in the bullpen as is typically in the case following Chris Stamos and Causey on the opening game of a weekend.

Connell gave Tennessee a drama free seventh inning while the lead was still three runs which felt massive after two high intensity innings. The Vols’ bats made it easier on Connell and everyone else when they extended the lead to six runs in the eighth inning.

Connell retired the side around a one-out walk in the eighth inning but things got dicey for him in the ninth inning. Evansville led off the inning with three straight hits which ended Connell’s outing and forced Tennessee to use Aaron Combs.

Combs walked the first batter he faced to load the bases before promptly striking out the next three batters to slam the door shut.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee baseball is a win away from returning to the College World Series. Game two of the Knoxville Super Regional is at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday morning. ESPN2 is broadcasting the game.

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