NCAA Tournament: A Super Sunday for Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Southern Mississippi ran away from Indiana during Sunday’s elimination game in the NCAA Tournament Knoxville Regional. The Golden Eagles jumped out to a five-run lead in the first inning on their way to a 15-3 victory. Southern Miss collected five doubles on 16 hits, while pticher Colby Allen allowed just one run in seven innings. Matthew Russo, Slade Wilks and Ozzie Pratt all collected three RBIs for the Golden Eagles. The one bright spot for the Hoosiers over the weekend was the performance of outfielder Devin Taylor. The sophomore ends his impressive 2024 campaign with 21 home runs and 55 RBIs after a solo-shot in the fifth inning.

Session 6 served as another elimination game for Southern Miss, as Tennessee was positioned with an opportunity to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals with a win. Outfielder Hunter Ensley put the Vols on the board in the second inning with an RBI single. Tennessee then flexed its power with five homers throughout the night. Cal Stark homered twice. Kavares Tears later drove a ball 388 feet out right-center field.

A four-run sixth inning proved pivotal in the game, as Tennessee responded from a 3-2 deficit by way of Tears’ three-run shot. Volunteer pitcher Zander Sechrist logged 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs. None of them were earned, however. Sechrist was hit with a line-drive in the leg area during the bottom of the fourth inning. The left-hander was on the ground for a few minutes, while being surrounded by a contigent of players and staff. Sechrist stayed in the game. He then struck out Nick Monistere and inducing a double play off Russo.

Other Notables From Knoxville

Dylan Dreiling and Dean Curley also homered on the night. Dreiling continues to drive the ball the opposite way with power, and flashes the ability to control the barrel through the zone. As a draft-eligible sophomore, Dreiling’s confidence continues to be key in a 2024 campaign that will likely result in a Day 2 selection this summer. The Tennessee outfielder was named Knoxville Regional Most Outstanding Player.

Nate Snead came in relief of Sechrist, tossing 4 1/3 innings of shutout baseball. Snead deployed breaking pitches and off-speed to keep Southern Miss off balance, to go along with mid-90s velocity. He finished his night throwing 34 strikes on 54 pitches.

What’s Next for NCAA Supers

Tennessee will advance to the Super Regional portion of the NCAA Tournament. The Vols will face the winner of the Greenville Regional. East Carolina and Evansville will play an elimination game on Monday to determine the winner.

Below is a list of the 2024 NCAA Knoxville Regional All-Tournament Team

C: Cal Stark, Tennessee
1B: Brock Tibbitts, Indiana
2B: Christian Moore, Tennessee
SS: Ozzie Pratt, Southern Miss
3B: Billy Amick, Tennessee
LF: Dylan Dreiling, Tennessee
CF: Hunter Ensley, Tennessee
RF: Slade Wilks, Southern Miss
DH: Devin Taylor, Indiana
P: Niko Mazza, Southern Miss (unanimous)
P: AJ Causey, Tennessee

Logan Quinton
Logan Quinton
Logan Quinton joined Baseball Prospect Journal in March 2023 as a College Baseball Writer focusing on the Tennessee Volunteers. Follow Quinton on Twitter @LDQsports.

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