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Vols fall to Irish in Knoxville super regional opener

 Chris Lee   in Baseball

A veteran Notre Dame team takes a 1-0 series lead in the Knoxville super regional

Trey Lipscomb photo courtesy of Tennessee athletics

Notre Dame jumped on Tennessee for a 5-0 lead after three innings in an 8-6 win over the Vols at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in the Knoxville super regional on Friday.

The Fighting Irish aren’t necessarily a home-run-hitting team—they’d hit 68 of them in 52 games coming in—but Carter Putz, Jack Brannigan, Jared Miler and Jack Zyska each smacked one at Knoxville’s hitter-friendly venue. 

The Vols also got a bomb from each of Jordan Beck, Jorel Ortega and Trey Lipscomb. The problem: they were all solo shots, as Notre Dame out-hit the Vols, 13-7.

Starting pitching—a tremendous strength all season—failed the Vols on Friday. Starter Blade Tidwell went three innings, allowed five runs (all earned), struck out three and allowed seven hits. Bullpen stalwart Will Mabrey also struggled, allowing three runs in 2/3 of an inning. Tennessee got its best performance from flame-throwing Ben Joyce, who fired 3 1/3 shutout innings with five strikeouts. 

Tennessee will also be without center fielder Drew Gilbert—perhaps its best player—after the junior was ejected in a brief confrontation with the home-plate umpire in the fifth inning following Gilbert’s displeasure with a strike call mid-at-bat. He was replaced by Jared Dickey. Pitching coach Frank Anderson was also ejected and he, too, will be out for Saturday. 

Comebacks have been nothing new for the Vols lately--they trailed both Campbell and Georgia Tech 4-0 in last week's Knoxville Regional--but this time the hole was too big, as Notre Dame's Jack Findlay shut the door by allowing one run in the final two innings for his third save. 

Notre Dame will throw ace John Bertrand (99 IP, 2.27 ERA, 103 Ks, 19 BB) on Saturday in a game scheduled for 2 Eastern. The Vols will counter with our SEC pitcher of the year in Chase Dollander (75 IP, 2.38 ERA, 103 Ks, 13 BB).