KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Notre Dame Athletic Communications) — The Notre Dame baseball team (40-15) played a wild offensive in the final innings to defeat the No. one Tennessee (57-9) 7-3, and progress into the College World Series for the third time in the history of the program. The Irish hit back-to-back homers in the seventh inning of the game to gain their first lead in the game and never went back.
“These are exceptional guys,” said head coach Link Jarrett. “When you’ve got amazing character and makeup, and you pay attention to their work, you’ll see baseball talent you witness in person. When you take that all together–and that’s what I’ve told him this morning–there’s not a team I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching that’s better suited to this moment than the ones I’ve coached.”
At the very least, at least one ACC team has qualified for the Men’s College World Series each of the 16 years that the tournament has been played. The ACC has put 29 teams into the MCWS in that time. The 14 currently ACC teams have a total of 99 MCWS appearances.
The score was 3-1 at the start of the seventh inning, David LaManna tied the game by hitting a two-run homer on the other side of the field. He made it 3-3. The next batter was the one where the Irish gained the lead when Jack Brannigan hit his shot into the wall in the right-center.
“As coach Jarrett said, it’s the last hour on Sunday,” said third baseman Jack Brannigan. “We came in the dugout in the top of the seventh and we were talking about ‘last hour on Sunday.’ We’ve talked about it basically since coach Jarrett has been here, and we knew that the last innings were going to be ours.”
“Yeah, I completely agree with (Jack) Brannigan,” said the catcher David LaManna. “We’ve been talking about the last hour on Sunday since our first Sunday practice with Coach Jarrett, and it all kind of culminated and came together today.”
Jack Findlay came back out in the third inning of relief, claiming the lead was he to never surrender. He didn’t let a batter through the last three innings, while his Irish scored three runs of insurance in the 8th. When a runner was on the rope in the ninth inning, the Irish converted a 5-4-5-3 double play to finish the game and seal the ticket for Omaha.
It’s the program’s third visit to Omaha in its history, and the first trip in 20 years since the 2002 team has been the final Irish team to make it. They defeated the top-ranked Florida State in three games to get their tickets to Omaha and were presented with a trophy by the crowd at Frank Eck Stadium earlier this season. The Irish become the first team ever in NCAA tournament history to be victorious in the tournament in four Super Regional games against No. 1 seeded national teams in the history of the school.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Tennessee took the lead for the second time in a row on Sunday. Luc Lipcius hit his third homer in the space of two days, hitting a solo homer towards the center of the field giving the Volunteers an early lead of 1-0 in the first frame.
The Irish took over after they made an unintentional run in the middle part of the second. Jack Zyska beat out an infield single and then took third and second base. David LaManna grounded out to the shortstop, but Zyska scored the ball making it 1-1.
In the second inning, Tennessee regained the lead by scoring a two-out RBI hit to the left. After two innings in the second, the Volunteers lead at 2-1.
Tennessee has increased its lead thanks to another run in the final in the 5th. Jack Findlay came on from the pen for the second time in the weekend but kept the damage to one run. The Vols lead 3-1 at the end of five innings.
The Irish turned the game upside down in the seventh and it started with a ground-rule double hit by Carter Putz. LaManna was in his box after two strikes and received a ball the other way, which sailed over the wall on the right side to draw the game too. It was only two home runs for the season and tied the game at 3-3. Brannigan took the third batter to bat and, after the ball he hit was just a little off the wall, he hit his fastball into the wall in the left-hand corner to hand Irish Irish an advantage. The 12th home run of the season was enough to give Notre Dame a 4-3 lead as they entered the bottom seven.
The Irish added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth to give them some breathing space. After two outs, Putz doubled in the space in the right-center field for two hits. Putz added another run later in the ninth inning thanks to an RBI single by Jack Ziska. After another scoreless inning from Findlay, the Irish were ahead 7-3 heading into the ninth.
In the ninth, the Vols had the base runner in with just one out, and the Irish defense had one more game to finish the game. Brannigan took the grounder of Evan Russell cleanly and tossed the ball to Miller who capped the play with Putz to complete the double play to win this game. It also sent players from the Irish back to Omaha.
Notre Dame’s season continues with Notre Dame’s season will continue at College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska next week. The dates and timings of this year’s College World Series will be announced on Monday, June 13 at 7 p.m. ET. The Irish are scheduled to play who will win the Greenville Super Regional in their first match in Omaha.
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