Randy Smith: Best Game I've Ever Seen

  • Monday, June 5, 2023
  • Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Saturday's NCAA Regional baseball game between Tennessee and Clemson was not only a classic but was the best game I've ever seen. A lot of folks I've spoken with since the game ended have told me the same thing....even a Clemson fan.
The Vols had an early lead at 1-0....then watched as Clemson tied it and went ahead 4-1....and with two out and the lead still belonging to Clemson, Zane Denton hit a 2-2 pitch out of the park and into the dark South Carolina night to give Tennessee a 5-4 lead.
Clemson tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and it stayed tied until the 14th inning. That's when Hunter Ensley ripped a run scoring double giving the Volunteers a 6-5 win and ending the Tigers' 17-game winning streak. It also put them in the regional championship against Charlotte and Tennessee responded with a 9-2 win placing them in the Super Regionals for the third straight year.

There were plenty of heroes to go around for Tennessee. I've already mentioned Denton and Ensley. And how about Ethan Payne who laid down a couple of perfect sacrifice bunts or pitcher Chase Burns who gave the Vols six and a third innings of solid relief work, allowing just one run, or reliever Seth Halvorsen who picked up the win with three hitless innings at the end. Tennessee is now 41-19 and will await the Super Regional pairings announcement later this week.

Believe it or not, Tennessee has a chance to host a Super Regional series even though they did not play at home in the first round. That's due to several upsets in the regionals including Clemson's loss to Charlotte. Right now, Tennessee will face either Southern Miss or Penn who play in the finals of the Auburn Regional. Both of those teams are capable of beating Tennessee but I don't look for that to happen, especially if they play in Knoxville. Last year's stunning upset loss to Notre Dame is still on the minds of Tennessee fans if not the players. It appeared the Vols were under-estimating Notre Dame which cost them dearly as the Fighting Irish played with a huge chip on their shoulders and came away with a shocking upset.

Regardless of what happens this weekend in the Super Regionals, Tennessee fans will always remember that Saturday evening in Clemson when their Volunteers refused to give up and battled and battled until they prevailed with a win they'll be talking about for years. Does that victory mean Tennessee is a team of destiny? Maybe....but you know about teams that get hot at just the right time. They win championships.
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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

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