After splitting the first tow games of the Super Regional, a winner take all third game was setup between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Tennessee Volunteers. Notre Dame was looking to make only their third trip to Omaha for the College World Series, while Tennessee was looking to end one of the most dominant seasons in college baseball history with a national championship. Only one would continue their season after today and after two games of high scoring offense, this one turned out to be more of a pitcher’s duel, something that plays right into Notre Dame’s strengths.
Notre Dame 7 - Tennessee 3
Win: Jack Findlay, ND (6-2)
Loss: Chase Burns, UT (8-2)
Tennessee struck early, scoring on a solo home run in the bottom half of the first inning off of Notre Dame started Liam Simon. Simon was able to hold the Volunteers to only one run though and allow Notre Dame to tie the game in the top half of the second. Jack Zyska singled then proceeded to steal second and third base. David LaManna hit a ground ball out that allowed Zyska to score to make it 1-1. Tennessee wasted no time coming right back, scoring another run in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead. Simon was replaced by Alex Rao and again, Notre Dame was able to limit the damage to just one run.
The score stayed 2-1 until the fifth inning, when Tennessee added one more run off of Rao. Freshman Jack Findlay came into the game for Notre Dame and was able to induce a double play ball to end the inning, again limiting Tennessee to just one run. Notre Dame threatened a few times throughout the first six innings, but made some mistakes and ran themselves out of scoring opportunities. In the seventh inning though, their bats finally woke up. Carter Putz started off the inning with a double and with two outs, David LaManna drove a ball to the opposite field that just snuck over the wall and inside the foul pole for a home run to tie the game at three.
Jack Brannigan followed LaManna and crushed a ball to left field for back-to-back home runs and Notre Dame’s first lead of the day. They weren’t done yet though, as the offense went back to work in the eighth inning. After an error allowed Notre Dame to put two runners on base, Carter Putz doubled again to bring them both home and extend the lead to 6-3. Jack Zyska followed with a single to bring home Putz and put the Irish up by four runs.
Jack Findlay went back to work to protect a four run lead. He set Tennessee down easily in the eighth inning. In the ninth he retired the leadoff hitter before issuing a walk. That brought up Evan Russell, the Tennessee catcher and number eight hitter. That was exactly what Findlay needed, inducing a game ending double play to send Notre Dame to Omaha for their third ever appearance in the College World Series and their first trip since 2002.
Omaha, Nebraska and the College World Series. Notre Dame is in the final eight, and the process from the Regionals and Super Regionals now repeats. Two brackets of four teams will play double elimination series with the two winners of each bracket facing off in a best of three final for the National Championship. After going on the road and beating the #1 ranked team in the country Notre Dame has nothing left to prove. They’re a legitimate contender for the title.