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Tennessee Baseball Bashes Evansville To Return To College World Series

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee fielding error on the first at-bat of the game led to Evansville taking a 1-0 first inning lead potentially adding more pressure to the heavy favorite Volunteers.

It was of no concern. Tennessee bashed seven home runs to dominated Evansville 12-1 and to punch its ticket to the College World Series for the second consecutive season.

Here’s how the Vols got it done on Sunday night.

A Home Run Barrage, Again

After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first inning, Christian Moore provided an immediate answer with a lead off home run in the bottom half of the inning. It was a sign of what was to come the rest of the game.

Tennessee took its first lead of the game with a four-run second inning and the first two runs came via the long ball. Dean Curley, who booted a grounder on the first at-bat of the game, started it off with a home run to left field and Omaha native Dalton Bargo followed it up by knocking one off the video board in right field.

Bargo hit Tennessee’s next home run to lead off the fourth inning, taking Nick Smith deep with an opposite field shot. Entering Sunday’s game, Bargo hadn’t hit a home run since game two of the Auburn series on April 6.

Moore wasn’t going to let Bargo be the only Vol with two home runs. He fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and then went deep off the batter’s eye on the ninth pitch of the at-bat. Tennessee finally hit a home run with runners on base two at-bats later when Billy Amick hit a 446 foot shot over the batter’s eye.

By the end of the fourth inning, Tennessee had hit six home runs which tied a program single-game postseason record.

It didn’t take them long to break it. Cal Stark’s three-run home run an inning later extended Tennessee’s lead to 12-1 and all but put the game away.

Taking Control In The Second Inning

The second inning was the crucial inning when Tennessee took the lead and control in the fourth inning.

It started with the two previously mentioned solo home runs from Curley and Bargo but the Vols not stopping there is what felt huge.

Cal Stark worked a competitive walk and then Moore walked on four pitches to put two-on. On a weekend when the Vols bashed a lot of home runs but didn’t always hit well with runners on base, Blake Burke had an awesome piece of hitting taking 2-2 pitch down the left field line for a RBI double.

The Vols added one more run on an Amick RBI groundout to second base. Tennessee took a four-run lead and never looked back after that point.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of Tennessee Baseball’s Omaha Clinching Win Against Evansville  

Zander Sechrist Comes Through Again

Evansville’s lineup had given Tennessee’s pitchers all sorts of fits during the first two games of the super regional series. But they were no issue for left-handed pitcher Zander Sechrist.

The senior, career midweek man turned in the best outing of his career allowing one unearned run on six hits while striking out six in 6.1 innings pitched. Sechrist was incredibly sharp, not walking or hitting a single batter. Any pitch he missed seemed incredibly close to his spot.

Sechrist dealt without getting much help from him defense. The previously mentioned error to open the game led to an unearned run in the first inning when Brent Widder singled to right field. Even at that point, Evansville had runners on the corners for the red-hot Cal McGinnis and was knocking on the door of doing more in the first inning, but Sechrist got the Vols out of the jam.

The left-handed pitcher looked like he was going to erase a one-out single in the fourth inning with a potential double play ball. Instead Moore couldn’t handle Amick’s throw and Evansville had two-on with one-out. No problem at all this time, even after a Widder single off Sechrist’s leg loaded the bases with two-outs.

It was the third straight start that a liner hit Sechrist. He quickly waved the trainer away this time and got out of the jam with a groundout to second.

On a night that Tennessee needed Sechrist to be good, the veteran left-hander was at his absolute best.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee advances to the College World Series for the second consecutive year. The Vols will face Florida State in game one but the date and first pitch time has not been set yet.

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