OMAHA, Neb. — Chase Burns pitched six shutout innings in relief of Chase Dollander, Tennessee manufactured two runs to break a tie in the seventh, and the Volunteers knocked Stanford out of the College World Series with a 6-4 victory Monday.
Tennessee (44-21) ended a six-game CWS losing streak dating to 2001 and plays Tuesday against SEC rival LSU for the opportunity to play Wake Forest on Wednesday. The Tigers beat Tennessee 6-3 here on Saturday.
Stanford (44-20) went 0-2 at the CWS for a second straight year.
Burns, who went from weekend starter at the start of the season to bullpen bulldog at the end, mixed his slider with a fastball he ran up to 102 mph while striking out nine and limiting the Cardinal to two hits.
“Coming out of the bullpen, you’ve got one thing in mind; it’s just do your job,” Burns said. “No fight is too big for us. Just going to go out there, do my job, hope for the best.”
Burns’ best was great against the Cardinal. He was the first reliever since 1997 to blank an opponent for six innings at the CWS.
“Hat’s off to him because that was an all-time performance at the College World Series,” Stanford coach David Esquer said.
Burns won national freshman honors last year as a weekend starter, and he continued in that role the first two months of this season. After he started 2-3 with a 6.10 ERA, he moved to the bullpen April 21.
Burns said he’s fully adjusted to the role, and the Vols are comfortable calling on him for middle relief or as a closer. In four tournament appearances, Burns has allowed one run and struck out 22 in 16 innings.
“It’s extremely special to have a guy like this in our program,” teammate Jared Dickey said. “He does great things for us. He showed you today that if you put your mind to something you can do whatever you want to do. So credit to him for a great outing.”
The Vols took the lead in the seventh when Griffin Merritt drew a leadoff walk from Matt Scott (5-5), reached third on Blake Burke’s double and scored on Denton’s grounder to short. Burke made it a two-run game when he came home on Brandt Pancer’s wild pitch.
Quinn Mathews, who made national headlines for throwing 156 pitches in super-regional win over Texas on June 11, held the Volunteers scoreless until they batted around on him in the fifth inning and forced his departure.
“Quinn’s bailed us out all year,” reliever Drew Dowd said. “When I took the ball I said, ‘You picked us up enough this year. I’ve got you right here.’ Today it wasn’t easy for him. I don’t think he had his best stuff, but he battled. Just didn’t go his way that fifth inning.”
Hunter Ensley’s sacrifice fly, Jared Dickey’s base hit up the middle and Christian Moore’s two-run single tied it 4-all. Mathews left with the bases loaded after having thrown 89 pitches and allowing 10 hits.
Dollander lasted only three innings, matching his shortest outing of the season. The projected first-round draft pick gave up two runs in the first inning and two in the third, allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two.
The wind was blowing in, making conditions unfavorable for two teams that use the home run to generate much of their offense.
Tennessee’s Maui Ahuna attempted to score on a fly to left in the first inning but was easily thrown out at home by shallow-playing Alberto Rios.
“It was a kick in the gut to think we’re going to be ahead in the first,” Vols coach Tony Vitello said, “and now we’re down in the first.”
The Vols tried Rios again in the fifth, sending Denton home on a fly that was a bit deeper. Rios’ throw was off line, and Denton was able to slide in ahead of Malcolm Moore’s tag.
Stanford asked for video reviews of the call at the plate and to see if Denton left third before the catch. The play stood, and the Vols continued their onslaught against Mathews.
It was the third time in six NCAA Tournament wins that the Vols came from behind. They’ve wiped out four-run deficits twice when facing elimination. After losing their super regional opener at Southern Mississippi, they were down 4-0 after three innings in Game 2 and rallied to win 8-4.
“This is a wild place,” Vitello said. “You’re dying to get here as a ball player from the time you’re a little tyke, but you better be careful what you ask for because when you get here, it’s not going to be easy at any point.”
WAKE FOREST 3, LSU 2: Bennett Lee drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth right after he made a huge defensive play at the plate, leading No. 1 national seed Wake Forest to a victory over LSU.
The Demon Deacons (54-10) are now in control of their bracket and a win away from the best-of-three finals. Their next game is Wednesday against the winner of a Tuesday elimination game between SEC rivals LSU and Tennessee. The Deacons would have to lose twice to be denied a spot in the finals.
Lee, the Deacons’ catcher, made one of the plays of the CWS in the top of the eighth when he snagged third baseman Brock Wilken’s bouncing throw and tagged out Tre’ Morgan to keep the game tied 2-all.
After Danny Corona lashed Thatcher Hurd’s breaking pitch down the right-field line for a double in the bottom half, Lee followed with a base hit into left that brought Corona home and produced Wake Forest’s second straight come-from-behind win.
Wake Forest closer Camden Minacci pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to finish off the Tigers (49-16).