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Evansville Storms Back To Upset Tennessee Baseball, Force Deciding Game Three

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Three first inning home runs and the bases loaded with one out in the second inning. The party was all but on at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Tennessee was going to coast back to Omaha.

Then they weren’t going to coast. Then they were trailing by a wide margin.

Evansville scored 10 runs in three innings to turn a four-run deficit into a five-run lead. Tennessee made a ninth inning push but it wasn’t enough as the Purple Aces earned a 10-8 victory to force a decisive third game.

Here’s how it went down.

Tennessee Starts Fast, Runs Donovan Schultz Early

It didn’t take Tennessee long to jump on Evansville and take control of game two of the weekend series. The scoring began just like it did in game one when Blake Burke launched a solo home run, this time 413 feet to deep left-center field.

But unlike the first inning on Friday, Tennessee wasn’t done yet. Dylan Dreiling hit a two-out solo home run to right field and Hunter Ensley made it back-to-back with a home run into the left field porches. Evansville coach Wes Carroll said yesterday that solo home runs don’t beat you, but giving them up in a high quantity does hurt you.

Evansville starter Donavan Schultz didn’t have much more luck in the second inning. Tennessee loaded the bases with a Dean Curley walk, a Cal Stark double off the wall and a Christian Moore walk.

That ended Schultz day and while Jakob Meyer did a great job to allow only one run on the bases loaded jam, the early 4-0 lead put Evansville in a hole.

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

Evansville’s Mid Inning Offensive Explosion

Evansville ability to fight back has been evident throughout the NCAA Tournament and in the Knoxville Super Regional. The Purple Aces did that and much more in game two. What they did was frankly hard to believe.

Evansville’s bats are its strength and after Beam held them at check through three inning, they came alive.

The Purple Aces cut Tennessee’s lead to one by scoring three runs in the fourth inning. Kip Fougerousse singled and Chase Bug doubled before a groundout scored one run and Cal McGinnis hit s two-run homer to right field.

Evansville put a runner on second with two-outs and pushed Beam from the game with a Fougerousse single up the middle. They weren’t done either, recording three straight hits and taking a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning.

Then in the sixth inning, Evansville hit a pair of two-run homers— first from Brendan Hord and then from Fougerousse.

Over the course of three innings, Evansville scored 10 runs with seven of the runs coming with six of the runs coming off home runs.

The Aces took control of the game and did it against a myriad of Tennessee pitchers— Beam, Kirby Connell, Nate Snead and Andrew Behnke.

Ninth Inning Push Comes Up Short

Tennessee was slow to respond after Evansville took control of the game. RHP Nick Smith entered the game for Evansville to pitch the seventh inning. His earned run average was north of 12 and his WHIP was north of two. He proceeded to retire the first six batters he faced and the Vols seemed all but dead.

But then Tennessee’s offense came alive in the ninth inning. The first five batters reached via three walks and a pair of singles. That cut Evansville’s lead to 10-7 and the bases remained loaded with nobody out.

Evansville finally moved away from Smith and to bullpen ace Shane Harris, who threw 44 pitches on Friday, at that point. The Vols added one more run on a Dean Curley sac fly and Cannon Peebles walked to load the bases.

But Harris struck out Cal Stark and won a long battle to Christian Moore to get a game ending fly out.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee baseball is returning to the College World Series. The NCAA hasn’t set the Vols schedule or opponent at time of publication.

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