Irish stun Vols in Super Regional
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish proved that they can keep pace with the number one ranked Tennessee Volunteers in 8-6 shocker in Knoxville
Day one of the Super Regionals was truly upset day. First Texas fell to East Carolina and then Virginia Tech succumbed to Oklahoma, and now this. While Texas has been shaky all season and Oklahoma has been red-hot of late, making those upsets perhaps eyebrow-raising, but not entirely unreasonable, the Tennessee Volunteers have been without blemish this season.
That makes their loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Knoxville Super Regional Game 1 a true shocker. In a game that was all about hot bats, Notre Dame defeated Tennessee 8-6. Yes, you read that right. The team that routinely put up double digit margins against their opponents were virtually silenced by the Irish.
Taking a page from the Volunteers playbook, Notre Dame hit a home run in each of the first four innings, opening up an 8-1 lead early on the nation’s top-ranked team. The Vols answered back with a couple of solo shots to claw back six, but they were unable to string together any serious threat to the Irish the whole game.
There was controversy as Tennessee centerfielder Drew Gilbert was ejected from the game. Perhaps agitated by an earlier incident in which he leaned into a pitch in the first inning, trying to draw the hit by pitch, and with the umpire having none of it, Gilbert then let his mouth get away from him after a strike that he didn’t like in the bottom of the fifth.
Turning to the umpire and swearing at him over balls and strikes will always get you tossed, and that is exactly what happened to a visibly stunned Gilbert. Tennessee pitching coach Frank Anderson rushed the field with his own choice words and was immediately ejected as well.
This could have dire consequences as the Volunteers will now go into Game 2, just one defeat away from elimination, without one of their best bats. Gilbert is hitting .369 and has 11 home runs on the season, but will now miss Game 2.
The Knoxville crowd let their displeasure be known by throwing garbage onto the field and booing and swearing at the umpires for the rest of the game. There were very ugly scenes that have marred what has been a stellar season by the Volunteers. It has been such a joy to see Tennessee play, but this classless display by both Drew Gilbert and the home crowd leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Tennessee can pull themselves together after this loss, and they need to do it immediately. They are facing a formidable foe in Notre Dame and the Irish will not lay down for them in the second game. If the Vols want to stay alive, they will need to do it by themselves.