KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Freshman Jack Findlay threw five shutout innings in relief and back-to-back home runs by catcher David LaManna and Jack Brannigan in the seventh sparked Notre Dame to a stunning 7-3 victory over No. 1 overall seed Tennessee in the championship game of the Knoxville Super Regional on Sunday.
Notre Dame (40-15) will be making just its third College World Series appearance. The Fighting Irish’s other trips came in 1957 and 2002.
Findlay (6-2) worked out of a jam after entering the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with nobody out, a run in and a runner on second, trailing 3-1. Findlay held the Volunteers in check from there, allowing a single and two walks, while striking out four. He ended the game with a double play.
Findlay’s efforts on the mound gave Notre Dame the opportunity to rally.
Carter Putz doubled off Volunteers starter Chase Burns (8-2) with one out in the top of the seventh and scored on LaManna’s two-out shot to right field to tie the game at 3-3. Brannigan followed with a go-ahead shot to left-center on a 1-2 pitch.
Findlay retired the side in order and Notre Dame added three big insurance runs in the eighth.
Camden Sewell hit Brooks Coetzee with a pitch to open the inning. Spencer Myers’ sacrifice bunt moved Coetzee to second. Ryan Cole reached first and Coetzee held on a throwing error by Vols third baseman Trey Lipscomb. Kirby Connell replaced Sewell and the runners advanced on a sac bunt by Jared Miller. Putz hit the first pitch he saw for a two-run double and Jack Zyska singled in Putz to cap the scoring. All three runs were unearned.
Luc Lipcius homered in the first to give the Vols a 1-0 lead. LeManna tied it with a RBI ground out in the second. Seth Stephenson’s RBI single in the bottom of the inning and a run-scoring double in the fifth put Tennessee up 3-1.
Notre Dame head coach Link Jarrett touted Tennessee as ‘the best No. 1 team in any college sport this year’ entering the super regional. Instead, for the first time in 20 years, it’s the Irish who will be playing in the CWS.
Tennessee (57-9) was trying for its second straight berth in the CWS and sixth overall. Notre Dame beat the Volunteers 8-6 on Friday. Tennessee won the second game 12-4. The Volunteers led the nation in home runs and earned-run average entering super regional play. Tennessee entered the game 49-0 when leading after six innings.