Men's College World Series: Tennessee trounces North Carolina, Florida State eliminates Virginia


Tennessee players celebrate a home run by Reese Chapman (13) that gave the Volunteers a 4-0 lead against North Carolina. (Dylan Widger/Reuters)

Tennessee players celebrate a home run by Reese Chapman (13) that gave the Volunteers a 4-0 lead against North Carolina. (Dylan Widger/Reuters)

College baseball’s best offense put on a show in Omaha Sunday.

In a battle against another high-octane lineup, Tennessee’s bats reigned supreme in a 6-1 win over North Carolina at the Men’s College World Series. The top-seeded Vols improved to 2-0 in the double-elimination format, while North Carolina dropped to 1-1 and an elimination game against ACC rival Florida State.

Starting pitchers Shea Sprague (North Carolina) and Drew Beam (Tennessee) held the early advantage in their first runs through opposing lineups as neither team logged a hit through the game’s first three innings. North Carolina struck first in the top of the fourth with a single by Parks Harber, but didn’t plate a run.

Tennessee then opened things up in the bottom half of a laborious fourth inning by Sprague. With two on and two outs, Kavares Tears broke the scoreless tie with a three-run home run on Sprague’s 26th pitch of the inning.

Sprague tallied 32 pitches in the fourth before the inning was over. He then allowed a leadoff home run to Reese Chapman in the fifth, and his day was done.

North Carolina put Beam to work in a fifth inning that drew 27 pitches from the Tennessee starter. But a strikeout of Colby Wilkerson stranded two runners and kept the Tar Heels off the scoreboard.

UNC had another chance in the seventh when it followed up a leadoff home run from Vance Honeycutt with two singles to put two men on with no outs while facing a 4-1 deficit. But Anthony Donofrio got picked off trying to steal second with runners on the corners and one out. A strikeout of Gavin Gallaher by reliever Kirby Connell then ended the UNC side with a single run.

There was no late-inning rally this time for the Tar Heels, who secured four of their six wins in the NCAA tournament on their final at-bat, including in Friday’s walk-off win over Virginia in their MCWS opener. Instead, Tennessee added unneeded insurance down the stretch and now needs one win in two potential games against either North Carolina or Florida State to advance to the best-of-three MCWS finals.

In the early elimination game Sunday, Florida State struck early and often, holding off a late Virginia surge for the 7-3 win.

The Seminoles improved to 1-1 to advance to face North Carolina. Virginia dropped to a season-ending 0-2 in MCWS play.

Florida State scored first, with a bases-loaded walk in the third inning followed by a solo homer from left fielder Jaime Ferrer in the fourth. But the fifth inning was when the Seminoles really shined: Designated hitter Marco Dinges hit an RBI single, immediately followed by Ferrer hitting a three-run home run to give Florida State a 6-0 lead. Shortstop Alex Lodise added another run with a solo homer in the sixth inning.

Virginia got two back in the seventh inning with a pair of RBI singles. After a short stoppage in play in the eighth to tend to the home plate umpire, who was clocked in the chin by a bouncing pitch, Virginia left fielder Anthony Stephan hit an RBI double to cut Florida State’s lead a little more.

Despite the late push from the Cavaliers, Florida State closed the ninth inning with a double play to finish off Virginia and stay in Omaha for another game.

Florida State pitcher Carson Dorsey had a stellar day, throwing 106 pitches over seven innings with seven strikeouts and keeping the Cavaliers scoreless through six innings.

Virginia’s Jay Woolfolk started well on the mound, throwing three strikeouts, but he appeared to injure his right knee after Ferrer’s first home run and was pulled in the fourth inning.

Although Virginia struggled on offense, there were a few defensive bright spots, including this run-stealing catch from Harrison Didawick in the second inning.

The biggest highlight was Ferrer’s second home run, which pushed Florida State to a demanding lead and increased Ferrer’s dominance on the night.

“Hitting two [home runs] on Father’s Day is awesome, especially with my father in the stands,” Ferrer said postgame, adding that he and his dad were planning to get dinner afterward to celebrate.

Ferrer also spoke during the postgame press conference about that particularly hot fifth inning for the Seminoles:

“It’s awesome. I always say that hitting is very contagious. We see the guys in front of you that are putting up good at-bats and they’re having success. It means the game plan that we’re going up to the plate with are working. And it gives us confidence.”

“To watch them play their best game, that was just a thrill I’ll never forget here,” Florida State coach Link Jarrett said in the postgame press conference, referencing the team’s response after losing to Tennessee in a walk-off on Friday.

“These guys did the real work today,” Jarrett added. “But I’m proud of the response and the answer by this team. I don’t know that I’ve ever been through anything like Friday night, and I haven’t been a part of a response to something that I’d never seen on this stage before.”

North Carolina will play Florida State Tuesday, and the loser will be eliminated. The winner will then face Tennessee and need to win two straight to advance to the MCWS finals.



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