KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Powered by an eight-run explosion in the fifth inning, top-ranked Tennessee evened its super regional series against No. 6/17 Notre Dame with a convincing 12-4 victory on Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, forcing a winner-take-all game three on Sunday.
The Big Orange blasted four long balls in that decisive fifth inning, including a pair from Luc Lipcius and another from Evan Russell, who both now sit tied atop UT’s career home runs list with 39 apiece.
Lipcius paced the Vols’ attack with a monster day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and four RBIs to go along with his two homers. Seth Stephenson and Jordan Beck also had multiple hits on the day, finishing with two each. Stephenson scored three runs while Beck drove in three with a blast over the porches in left field to put UT ahead 5-0, which ended up being the game-winning hit.
Sophomore starter Chase Dollander was back to his normal self on the mound, turning in an outstanding outing with seven strong innings of work. The Georgia native allowed just two runs (both earned) on five hits and no walks while striking out five to earn the win and improve to 10-0 on the year.
After having to battle from behind in each of its last three games, Tennessee (57-8) struck first on Saturday, plating a run in the top of the first. Stephenson led off the game with a single to center field and came all the way around to score on a double by Trey Lipscomb three batters later.
Neither team was able to scratch a run across over the next three innings before UT’s offensive outburst in top of the fifth. The Fighting Irish (39-15) got on the board with runs in the fifth and sixth innings to cut their deficit to seven, but the Vols responded with a three-spot in the seventh to ice the game away.
A two-run homer by Jack Zyska in the bottom of the eighth accounted for the final scoring. The senior left fielder was the lone bright spot for the Irish, going 4-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs.
UP NEXT: UT and Notre Dame square off in a do-or-die game three on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET with a spot in Omaha on the line. Sunday’s contest will be broadcast on ESPN.
HOME RUN DERBY: Tennessee’s bats put on a show in its eight-run fifth inning, hammering four home runs in the frame. It marked the sixth time this season that the Vols have hit three or more homers in an inning and the second time this year with a four-homer inning (Bot. 8 vs. Auburn on April 29).
DOE IS 10-0: By picking up the win, Chase Dollander remained perfect record-wise on the year, improving to 10-0 on the year. The last SEC pitcher to start a season 10-0 was Arkansas’ Blaine Knight in 2018.