KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Top-ranked Tennessee Baseball took its first loss of the postseason on Friday in game one of the NCAA Super Regional. Notre Dame homered four times to topple the Vols, 8-6.
This is Tennessee’s first loss since May 14 against Georgia.
Right-handed pitcher Blade Tidwell was coming off a dominant outing against Alabama State in the first game of the Knoxville Regional. That earned Tidwell the start against Notre Dame.
However, the Irish’s bats were hot from the start.
In the top of the first inning, Ryan Cole hit a line drive to left field with the first at-bat. As he was stealing second base, Tennessee catcher Evan Russell tried to throw Cole out at second but overthrew second base and Cole landed on third base.
With only one out, Carter Putz hit a two-run home run to center field to put Notre Dame on the board.
The Fighting Irish took an early 2-0 lead while holding the Vols scoreless in the bottom of the first.
In the second inning, Notre Dame second baseman Jared Miller went yard to right-center field.
The Fighting Irish kept the momentum into the third inning. Shortstop Zack Prajzner connected on a two-run home run to right field making it a 5-0 game.
Tidwell’s outing came to an end after the third inning. He went 3.0 innings pitched, giving up 7 hits on five runs and three home runs. Prior to Friday’s game, Tidwell had only given up three home runs on the season.
Will Mabrey came out of the bullpen for Tennessee to start the fourth inning.
With two outs and runners on second and third, third baseman Jack Brannigan hit a three-run home run to left field to put Notre Dame up 8-1. Prior to Friday’s game, Tennessee had never trailed by seven runs at any point this season. Four home runs tied the Irish season record for home runs hit in a single game.
That ended Mabrey’s outing and Ben Joyce took the mound for the Vols to close out the fourth inning.
To start the bottom of the fourth inning, Tennessee third baseman Trey Lipscomb hit a solo home run to right-center field. That cut Notre Dame’s lead to 8-2.
Notre Dame right-handed pitcher Austin Temple’s outing came to an end after walking Jorel Ortega following Lipscomb’s solo home run. Temple went 3.0 innings, giving up three hits, 2 runs, and striking out one batter. Right-hander Alex Rao took the mound for the Irish in the fourth.
For the first time all game, Tennessee held Notre Dame scoreless through the fifth inning.
Things did not get better for the Vols in the bottom of the sixth inning. Drew Gilbert was tossed from the game after arguing a call made by the Homeplate umpire. The umpire called a strike on Gilbert, who believed the pitch missed low. That provoked pitching coach Frank Anderson to come out of the dugout, and onto the field to argue the call as well. Anderson was tossed along with Gilbert.
Per NCAA rules, if a player or an assistant coach is ejected from a game, they immediately miss the following game as well. Gilbert and Anderson will both miss Saturday’s game two.
Second baseman Jorel Ortega brought life to Tennessee in the bottom of the sixth. Ortega solo homered to right field. That cut Notre Dame’s lead to five, 8-3.
Ben Joyce held Notre Dame scoreless in the top of the seventh and Trey Lipscomb took advantage.
Lipscomb doubled through the left side in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Jared Dickey and Jordan Beck. That cut Notre Dame’s lead to just three runs at 8-5.
Joyce’s outing came to an end starting the eighth inning. He pitched 3.1 innings, striking out five batters, allowing two hits and no runs. Freshman Wyatt Evans came out of the bullpen to pitch the eighth. He pitched 0.2 innings before Camden Sewell came out of the bullpen for Tennessee in the eighth inning. Evans struck out two batters and walked one.
Tennessee tried to claw its way back in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jordan Beck hit a solo home run to cut the deficit to two at 8-6. However, the comeback fell short as the Vols dropped game one, 8-6.
Next Up: Tennessee and Notre Dame will play at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Vols must win game two to keep their season alive.