Strike up the band and sing Rocky Top, the Volunteers are headed back to Omaha! The Vols took down the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi 5-0 in game three of the Hattiesburg super regional Monday night. This is the sixth College World Series appearance for the Volunteers and their second in the last three seasons.
Griffin Merritt got the night started for Tennessee when his single to right field scored Christian Moore in the bottom second inning. Zane Denton added to the lead in the fifth with a monster three-run homer to put the Vol's up 4-0. The scoring did not stop there Maui Ahuna added another bomb in the seventh to put the Volunteers up five runs to zero. While the balls were flying the pitching was no slouch either. Drew Beam was excellent in his six innings of work, allowing zero runs and seven hits while walking one and striking out seven. After Beam's night was over the bullpen continued to shut down the Southern Miss lineup. Aaron Combs and Chase Burns did not allow a hit while walking only one batter combined.
While Tennessee did get the job done in Hattiesburg, there was some added pressure on the boys from Rocky Top. After losing game one the Vols had to win two straight on the road to make an appearance in Omaha. They would take game two from the Golden Eagles during the second game on Sunday leading the rubber match on Monday night which sent the Volunteers to the College World Series.
The Vols join two other teams out of the Southeastern Conference in Omaha. The Gators from Florida and the LSU Tigers are also making the trip to Nebraska. Joining the three programs out of the SEC are Wake Forest, Virginia, TCU, Stanford, and Oral Roberts. Right now, the odds-on favorites to win the College World Series are the Demon Deacons from Wake Forest who are number one in the national polls and have compiled a 52-10 record. The Volunteers hit the diamond in Omaha for the time since 2021 when they face fellow SEC member LSU on their quest to gain that first College World Series title. The first pitch is scheduled for six o'clock central time on Saturday, June 17.
Alek Kisiel / WNSR Columnist
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