KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Carter Putz hit a two-run home run in the first inning, Notre Dame matched its season-high with four home runs, and the Fighting Irish beat No. 1 seed Tennessee 8-6 on Friday night in the opener of the Knoxville Super Regional.
This super regional pitted college baseball’s winningest programs since the start of the 2020 season by winning percentage with the Vols first and Notre Dame second.
Notre Dame moved a win away from advancing to the College World Series by scoring every run off a homer against the nation’s best home-run hitting team. The Irish ranked 78th nationally with 68 home runs.
Jared Miller made it 3-0 with a home run in the second in his first at-bat this postseason after playing only defense during the regional.
Jack Zyska put Notre Dame up 5-0 with a two-run homer in the third as Tennessee pitcher Blade Tidwell matched the three home runs he allowed through 36 innings this season. Notre Dame kept slugging, and Jack Brannigan’s three-run homer gave the Irish an 8-1 lead for the biggest deficit Tennessee has faced this season.
This was the Vols’ first loss in seven games in the super regionals and first in Knoxville after 12 straight NCAA postseason wins.
Centerfielder Drew Gilbert was ejected in the fifth for criticizing a strike with pitching coach Frank Anderson tossed for running on the field with coach Tony Vitello. That means both Gilbert, Tennessee’s clean-up hitter, and Anderson will miss Game 2 on Saturday.
Peyton Manning was in the stands for this game with the berth in Omaha on the line in this series. Not that he helped.
Trey Lipscomb and Jorel Ortega each hit solo home runs for the Vols, who came in leading the nation with 150 home runs. Lipscomb’s two-run double in the seventh pulled the Vols within 8-5. Jordan Beck added a home run in the ninth.