A late-inning comeback attempt by Tennessee fell short in its 2023 Men’s College World Series opener as the Volunteers fell to #5 national seed LSU, 6-3, on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 25,010 at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha.
After trailing 5-0 going into the 8th, UT struck for three runs in the top half of the inning to cut the deficit to two. Christian Scott raced home on an RBI single by Maui Ahuna to get the Vols on the board before Hunter Ensley homered to left-center field to make it 5-3.
Ensley had a fantastic night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run and two RBIs, including two of the team’s five hits against LSU ace Paul Skenes. The junior right hander gave up two runs over 7.2 innings with 12 strikeouts while giving up just five hits and one walk to pick up the win.
Tennessee starter Andrew Lindsey was stuck with the loss after allowing two runs on five hits over 3.2 innings, finishing with four strikeouts and one walk issued.
Griffin Merritt and Scott had the only other hits for the Big Orange off of Skenes with a single in the 5th and a double in the 8th inning. Scott’s one-out double to spark UT’s eighth-inning rally was the first time Skenes and LSU allowed a runner to advance past first base.
Aaron Combs, Seth Halvorsen, Kirby Connell, Camden Sewell, Hollis Fanning and AJ Russell all saw action in relief, combining to pitch the final 4.1 innings. Sewell’s appearance makes him the first player in program history to play in two separate College World Series. The veteran right hander appeared in both games during UT’s 2021 trip to Omaha against Virginia and Texas.
Brayden Jobert led LSU at the dish with three extra-base hits, two runs and two RBIs, finishing a single short of the cycle. Gavin Dugas opened the scoring with a solo home run to left field in second inning while Tre’ Morgan also had a hit and a pair of RBIs for the Tigers.
The Vols will take on #8 national seed Stanford in an elimination game on Monday afternoon at 2 PM ET on ESPN. The Cardinal lost its opener to #1 Wake Forest, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon.
Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello, along with players Hunter Ensley and Griffin Merritt, spoke about the loss after the game. Video is courtesy of the NCAA.