For the second time this postseason, Tennessee battled back from a four-run deficit to stave off elimination after rallying past #No.8 seed Stanford for a 6-4 victory on a hot Monday afternoon at Charles Schwab Field.
A four-run 5th inning and another incredible relief outing from Chase Burns propelled the Volunteers to their first College World Series win since 2001, snapping a six-game skid in Omaha.
Burns was nearly unhittable in six shutout innings out of the bullpen, retiring 18 of the 20 batters he faced, including the final 10 Cardinal hitters in order to end the game and finish off his fifth win of the year. The sophomore flame thrower allowed just two hits and did not issue a walk while finishing with nine strikeouts, tying Todd Helton for the most punchouts in a CWS game in program history (June 3, 1995 vs. Clemson).
UT’s offense applied pressure on Stanford’s pitchers throughout the afternoon, cranking out 13 hits in the game, which was the third most ever by the Big Orange in a CWS game. Leadoff man Maui Ahuna, along with three-hole hitter Jared Dickey, led the way with three hits apiece.
Dickey also scored and drove in a run in Tennessee’s tide-turning four-run fifth inning. Christian Moore’s two-run single with the bases loaded tied the game at four before the Vols added two more runs in seventh to take their first lead. Zane Denton drove in the eventual game-deciding run with an RBI groundout before Blake Burke – who also had a pair of hits – raced home from third on a wild pitch to give UT a 6-4 lead it would not relinquish.
It was the Cardinal who jumped out to the early lead with two runs in the first and two more in the third to pull ahead 4-0. Alberto Rios drove in two of Stanford’s four runs with an RBI double and a sacrifice fly, while Braden Montgomery also had a run-scoring single in the third.
Quinn Mathews started for the Cardinal and was able to work out of a couple of early jams in the first and second innings before retiring the Vols in order in the third and fourth. The senior lefty did not make it out of the fifth, however, and ended up allowing four runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings of work.
Reliever Matt Scott was stuck with the loss after giving up two runs in a third of an inning before making way for Brandt Pancer. The Vols will take on the loser of Monday night’s game between No. 1 Wake Forest and No. 5 LSU in another elimination game on Tuesday at 7PM ET on ESPN.
Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello, along with players Chase Burns and Jared Dickey, talked about the win following the game. Video is courtesy of the NCAA.