Tennessee Baseball blows past Indiana to advance to the Knoxville Regional Final

Photo by Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is one win away from advancing to the super regionals for the fourth straight season after edging past Indiana 12-6 on Saturday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Vols’ offense was dominant, while their pitching did enough to keep things from getting interesting as they advanced to the Knoxville Regional Final on Sunday.

Tennessee’s offense explodes in the second and third innings

It took Tennessee about an inning to adjust to Indiana RHP Connor Foley’s never-ending 90s fastball. But in the second inning, the Vols’ offense started to find its groove and they didn’t let Foley off the hook.

Hunter Ensley walked to give Tennessee a leading baserunner, then Indiana second baseman Jasen Oliver made a fantastic play to rob Kavares Tears of a single. The play saved a run when Dean Curley hit a 2-2 fastball deep to left field in the next at bat.

The freshman Curley raced to nine home runs on the season as he went deep in the series finale at Auburn. But the shortstop’s power has waned in recent weeks and his production at the plate has been more inconsistent given the weekend. Curley went 91 plate appearances without hitting a home run before giving the Vols the lead on Saturday night.

Nine hitter Cal Stark came to bat with two outs and extended the inning with a hit pitch. Foley retired Christian Moore on three pitches to open the game, in his second at bat Moore took the first pitch he saw deep to right field for a two-run homer.

Tennessee loaded the bases again before Foley got out of trouble to reach the third inning. However, the problems were just beginning. The Vols loaded the bases again, this time with one out, and a Christian Moore RBI walk ended his day.

The big swing in the third inning came two at bats later when Billy Amick hit Tennessee’s 12th grand slam of the season to give the Vols a 9-0 lead. It was Amick’s third home run in as many games, with a total of 10 RBIs on the three swings. It all put the Hoosiers a long way before recording their first hit.

Commando avoids Drew Beam during an outing

Drew Beam was dominant in the first two innings, retiring the Hoosiers both times in a row while striking out three in total.

But after Beam retired the first batter of the third inning, things went sideways for him. Jake Stadler doubled, then Beam walked nine hitter Morgan Colopy before Devin Taylor hit a three-run homer to left field to get the Hoosiers on the board.

Indiana ran Beam out of the game in the fourth inning by scoring another run and putting runners on first and second base with two outs. Commando was Beam’s biggest problem in the two innings as he threw a fastball up the middle to the Hoosiers’ best hitter while walking one and hitting two others.

The poor performance came at a good time given Tennessee’s offensive explosion. Still, it was one of Beam’s worst outings of the season, as he allowed four earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched – his second shortest outing of the season.

More from RTI: Play-by-Play of Tennessee Baseball’s win against Indiana

Behnke, consistent offense keeps the lead big

Tennessee wasn’t as dominant after opening the 9-0 lead, but still kept Indiana at bay the rest of the way with a few more runs added and a fantastic relief performance from Andrew Behnke.

Cal Stark pushed Tennessee’s offensive output to 10 points when he hit a solo home run in the fourth inning. The Vols scored two more runs an inning later on a single by Kavares Tears, combined with a fielding error.

The sophomore replaced Beam at two-on in the fourth and promptly walked the first batter he faced on four pitches to load the bases. But from there he did his work at a high level. He left the bases loaded with a pop-out before going 3.1 scoreless innings in relief.

Behnke struck out three batters and Indiana only really threatened him once and he got out of the inning unscathed thanks to a nice Christian Moore diving catch. The left-handed pitcher’s 3.1 innings were the longest outing of his career.

Box score

Next one

Tennessee advances to the Knoxville Regional Finals, where they will face the winner of the Indiana-Southern Miss competition at 6:00 PM ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Whoever wins between the Hoosiers and Golden Eagles will have to beat Tennessee twice.

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