Saturday was a long but good night for Tennessee’s top-ranked baseball team and Vols coach Tony Vitello had a lot to say about it.
Tennessee overcame a four-point deficit and defeated Campbell, 12-7, in an NCAA Tournament Knoxville Regional Tournament winners game at a noisy Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
A ninth-inning four-run top for Tennessee (55-7) made the victory over Campbell (41-18) infinitely sweeter than it was until the final moments, but the Vols managed their business and qualified for this weekend’s regional championship round.
Campbell and Georgia Tech play Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, and the winner will have to beat Tennessee Sunday night and then again Monday afternoon to advance to the super regional round. The Vols, meanwhile, only have to win once, and they would win a Super Regional series at home next weekend against the winner of the Statesboro Regional – where Notre Dame, Georgia Southern and Texas Tech are still in. life.
SEC Pitcher of the Year and First Team All-American Chase Dollander had a rare tough night, allowing four runs (just two earned) on six hits in 2.2 innings against a Campbell offense ranked in the top 10 nationally for home runs, stolen bases and bases. The Vols got a big relief outing from the junior southpaw Kirby Connell, yet. The entertainer also known as Vollie Fingers threw a career-high 70 pitches, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out four and walking two, earning a victory to move to 4-0 on the year. Freshman star right-hander Drive away the burns and closer senior left-handed Redmond Walsh worked the final 2.1 innings, with Walsh throwing a perfect bottom of the ninth to send the Vols into the championship round.
Campbell’s second-year right-hander Cade Kuehler — who, like Dollander, is a potential first-round pick in next summer’s Major League Baseball draft — started out strong before finally succumbing to the tougher attack. powerful in the country. Kuehler was marked by the loss, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits over seven innings, striking out 10 and walking two. right-handed ty cummings and Ryan Chasse worked the last two innings, giving up five runs on seven hits.
A four-point bottom of Game 3, the Camels have a 4-0 lead, but the Vols fought back to score three points top of fourth and four more to take the lead top of fifth. A two-run home run from second baseman Jorel Ortega was the hard hit in the fourth, and a three-run homer from junior center fielder Drew Gilbert was the big hit in the fifth.
Campbell cut the deficit to 7-6 on a two-run homer from first baseman Drake Pierson in the bottom of the seventh. Tennessee extended the lead to 8-6 on a solo home run from the freshman designated hitter Blake Burk in the top of the eighth, but the Camels cut it to 8-7 on a solo homer by designated hitter Connor Denning late in the inning.
Tennessee finally put the game to bed in the top of the ninth, thanks to an RBI single from Christian Moore and a three-run homer moments later from the junior shortstop. Cortland Lawson.
A full recap of Saturday’s game is available HERE.
Here’s everything Vitello had to say after Saturday’s wild win.