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Tennessee Baseball Defeats Florida State To Advance To College World Series Finals

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

OMAHA, Neb. — Tennessee baseball is going to play for the National Championship.

The Vols advanced to the College World Series Finals for just the second time in program history by defeating Florida State 7-2 on Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s how Tennessee got it done in its second game against Florida State in Omaha.

Fast Start For The Offense

Florida State starting pitcher John Abraham was making just his third start of the season and entered the game with just 34 innings pitched all season. The Vols jumped on the freshman right-hander accordingly.

Christian Moore worked a walk and Blake Burke singled on the first two-bats of the game and the Vols were quickly in business. Billy Amick drove in the first run of the game on a fielder’s choice and it was the only out Abraham recorded.

Dylan Dreiling worked a walk and then Hunter Ensley drove a run home with a liner to left field that ended Abraham’s day. Brennen Oxford relieved him and looked like he might get out of the inning unscathed but a quick pick off attempt trying to catch Kavares Tears sleeping got past first baseman Daniel Cantu and allowed Dreiling to score on an error.

Jumping out to an early lead was key as was forcing Florida State to make the move to Oxford— their top available reliever— early in the game.

Tennessee Exits Third Inning Jam Unscathed

Florida State looked like it was going to start doing damage off of Zander Sechrist in the third inning when nine-hole hitter Jaxson West singled and leadoff man Max Williams doubled to give the Seminoles runners on second and third with no one out.

But thanks to good pitching, good defense and bad base running, the Vols found a way out of the inning unscathed. Cam Smith it a chopper over Sechrist’s head but West hesitated until it got over the pitcher, shortstop Dean Curley mad an aggressive but smart play cutting him down at home for the first out of the inning.

Then James Tibbs III chopped one to first. Burke touched the base and then rocketed a throw over to Curley who tagged Smith for the final out of the inning. Since it wasn’t a force out at second, if Williams had touched home before the tag the run would have counted. But Williams let up in his last few steps and Curley made the tag briefly before.

With Tennessee leading, the fourth inning felt like Florida State’s big chance to get some runs. A combination of factors kept it from happening.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of Tennessee Baseball’s Victory Over Florida State On Wednesday

Another Zander Sechrist Masterclass

Tennessee’s Zander Sechrist made his first career appearance at the College World Series and looked exactly like he has in his last four starts, dominating Florida State in 6.1 innings pitched.

The Seminoles entered Wednesday’s game averaging nine runs per game in Omaha. But Sechrist did what no other pitcher has— shutting them down in an extended outing. Including the last two batters to exit the third inning jam, Sechrist retired 10 straight batters in the middle of the game and was largely in cruise control.

Florida State finally got to Sechrist in the seventh inning when back-to-back home runs from Daniel Cantu and Alex Lodise ended the left-handed pitcher’s day.

Still, it was another impressive postseason outing and this one came against the best lineup yet. Over his last 30.1 innings pitched, Sechrist has allowed just four earned runs.

Two-Out Rally Run Support

At two different points in the game, a Florida State retired the first two batters of the inning before the Vols added an a run to extend their lead.

The first came in the second inning when Oxford retired Reese Chapman and Cal Stark. But then Christian Moore singled, advanced to second on a balk and scored on a Burke single to right field.

The other came in the seventh inning. Joe Charles retired Moore and Burke to open the inning. At that point, the right-handed pitcher had retired the first eight batters that he faced. But then Billy Amick doubled down the left field line and Dylan Dreiling drove him home with a single to right field.

On a day when Tennessee’s offense wasn’t overly explosive, adding those two-out insurance runs proved significant.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee baseball is advancing to the College World Series finals where they’ll face either Florida or Texas A&M. Game one of the three-game finals series is at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night. ESPN is broadcasting the game.

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