KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee Baseball punched their ticket to the NCAA Super Regionals on Sunday evening defeating Liberty 3-1 in the Knoxville Region Championship Game.
Tennessee went 3-0 in the Knoxville region, defeating Wright State and Liberty twice to advance to the program’s first Super Regional since 2005.
Tennessee’s bats, which were dynamic out the gate in the first two games of the Regional, were stagnant until the resilient offensive efforts of Max Ferguson and Jake Rucker came to the plate in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Ferguson delivered a double deep to the pocket of left field, Rucker then singled up the middle to send him home to give the Vols a 1-0 lead.
The two-out magic continued in the bottom of the sixth inning when Drew Gilbert delivered a two-run bomb to right center extending the Vols lead to 3-0. The homer was his third of the regional, going yard in each of Tennessee’s three games. With his two-run shot in the fifth inning, Drew Gilbert became just the second Vol Baseball player in the last 10 years to homer in three straight games. The first was Luc Lipcius, who did so earlier this season.
Morristown West alumnus Will Heflin got the start on the bump for the Vols in the Region Championship Game. The senior went 5.1 innings allowing just four hits, one run and striking out eight.
Heflin had retired seven straight entering the top of the sixth, but quickly saw that streak come to an end after hitting Aaron Anderson with a pitch. The Flames would continue to agitate Heflin after Will Wagner doubled to right field advancing Anderson to third, Trey McDyre’s infield single ended the shutout. Heflin struck out Brady Gulakowski before his night ended and Sean Hunley came in from the bullpen ending the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
Hunley pitched the final 3.2 innings allowing just one hit while striking out 5 to earn the save.
UP NEXT: Tennessee advances to the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals where they will host either Oregon or LSU at Lindsey Nelson Stadium next weekend.