Tennessee baseball in win-or-go-home mode after drama-filled loss to Notre Dame

Mike Wilson
Knoxville News Sentinel

Jack Brannigan held his right hand high toward the Notre Dame dugout as he rounded second.

The Fighting Irish third baseman had clobbered a three-run homer over the double-decker porches in left field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. It was Notre Dame's fourth homer in as many innings and Tennessee baseball trailed by a season-high seven runs Friday. 

The No. 1 Vols (56-8) couldn't recover, losing 8-6 in the opener of the Knoxville Super Regional. They will play to keep their season and College World Series aspirations alive Saturday (2 p.m. ET, ESPN).

UT has to win back-to-back games to reach Omaha.

Drew Gilbert got tossed, will miss Saturday

Drew Gilbert was ejected in the fifth inning after using choice words toward home-plate umpire Kellen Levy. Gilbert was displeased with a 1-1 strike call from Levy, turning toward the umpire and voicing his frustration.

Pitching coach Frank Anderson also was tossed. Both will miss Saturday's game.

Vols coach Tony Vitello and Anderson ran out of the dugout when Gilbert was ejected. It was Anderson's second ejection this season. He also was tossed against Alabama on April 16. Anderson will receive a three-game suspension.

Tennessee's comeback falls short

The Vols fell behind 8-1 on Brannigan's three-run homer, the first time they had a faced a deficit greater than five runs this season. UT lost to Texas 7-2 in March and 8-3 to Georgia on May 14. 

UT got within 8-3 on solo homers from Trey Lipscomb and Jorel Ortega in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively. It got two more back on a seventh-inning double from Lipscomb that deflected off the wrist of Notre Dame shortstop Zack Prajzner.

Jordan Beck hit a one-out solo homer to right center in the ninth, but UT couldn't get any closer.

Notre Dame tagged Blade Tidwell

Blade Tidwell had given up three homers in 36 innings entering Friday. He gave up three in three innings.

The Vols sophomore was rocked by the Fighting Irish offense in a short start. He gave up a season-high five runs on seven hits.

Notre Dame leadoff hitter Ryan Cole smacked Tidwell's first pitch into left field for a single. Carter Putz hit a two-run homer off the scoreboard in right field two batters later.  Jared Miller hit a solo shot to right center and Jack Zyska took Tidwell into the Tennessee bullpen for a two-run homer.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.