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Tennessee Defeats Florida State With Four-Run Ninth Inning Rally

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

OMAHA, Neb. — Tennessee baseball was 0-10 in games they trailed after eight innings entering its College World Series opener against Florida State.

Make it 1-10.

The Vols scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, including three with two-outs, to walk off the Seminoles 12-11 at Charles Schwab Field. Here’s how it went down.

Defensive Miscues Cost Tennessee

Playing in a much larger ball park can expose defensive issues, but it shouldn’t change much about infield defense. But that’s what happened to Tennessee from the jump on Friday night.

The very first at-bat of the game was a Max Williams chopper to second base. Blake Burke tried to come make the play leading to an infield single. That mistake came back to bite the Vols and led to a first inning run.

Tennessee overcame Kavares Tears booting a ball in right field in the second inning thanks to a Florida State base running miscue and an inning ending double play. The real trouble came in the third inning.

First, Christian Moore fired a ball past Burke on a play he had plenty of time to make. Then, Hunter Ensley was slow throwing to third base on a single to center field. The throw was off line allowing the batter to advance to second easily on the throw. But the brutal mistake came later in the inning. With the bases loaded and the game tied, Max Williams chopped one to second base. It looked like an inning ending double play but Blake Burke dropped Dean Curley’s low throw to first base.

That allowed the runners on both third and second to score. A batter later, Cam Smith roped a RBI double to left field and he advanced to third on a fielding error by Dylan Dreiling. It was already a bad inning but Tennessee was close to getting out of it with the game tied. Instead, Florida State exited the inning leading 7-4.

Uncharacteristic Pitching Struggles

While Tennessee’s defensive issues have been bubbling below the surface throughout the postseason, its pitching has been solid.

That’s what made the pitching issues so bizarre. And while the defense did them no favors, it wasn’t the only reason Florida State’s offense put up such big numbers.

AJ Causey was the furthest from his normal self. It was evident early on when he walked two runners in the first inning. He worked around trouble in the second inning but the third inning is when things unraveled for him. The low-slot right-handed pitcher didn’t make it out of the inning, allowing five runs in 1.2 innings pitched.

Aaron Combs has been lock down for Tennessee the back half of the season and he wasn’t terrible but a two-run homer and a two-run double off of Andrew Behnke after he exited made it a four earned run outing in 3.1 innings pitched.

Walks were the biggest issue for Tennessee’s pitching staff. The Vols’ pitchers walked xx batters in the loss which tied its season high.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of Tennessee Baseball’s College World Series Opening Loss Against Florida State

Christian Moore’s Big Night

Christian Moore led the way for Tennessee’s offense on its big night and turned in a historic night, recording just the second triple in the history of the College World Series. His first inning triple led to a run, his second inning double drove home a run and his sixth inning 440 foot solo home run cut Florida State’s lead to two runs.

Moore added a ninth inning double with the game on the line for good measure. He recorded his career-high in hits. Four of them were extra-base hits.

The Ninth Inning Rally

Tennessee entered the bottom half of the ninth inning trailing by three runs. They immediately went to work.

Kavares Tears led off the inning with a triple to center field and Dean Curley drove him home with a sac fly to the warning track in ninth inning. Cannon Peebles worked a walk to bring the tying run to the plate but Cal Stark popped out to bring the Vols to their final out.

Moore came up with the game on the line, working the count full before doubling down the left field line to bring the tying run 180 feet away.

Burke worked an incredible at-bat and things got dicey when he check swung at a 2-2 pitch, but the third base umpire ruled no swing. The star first baseman made it count, singling up the middle to tie the game.

“It was a check swing and I didn’t go,” Burke said postgame. “I kept battling after that and that was the result.”

Billy Amick singled to left field to move the winning run to second but it mattered little if he stood on first or second. Dylan Dreiling sent everybody home with a walk-off single into the left-center gap.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee moves to the winner’s bracket where they’ll face North Carolina at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon. ESPN is broadcasting the winner’s bracket matchup.

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