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IU baseball clubbed by No. 1 Tennessee in NCAA baseball regional, plays Southern Miss again

Indiana baseball won’t want to relive the program’s first meeting with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament anytime soon.

The Hoosiers (33-25-1) lost to Tennessee, 12-6, on Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in the Knoxville Regional.

Tennessee’s home crowd was treated to a fireworks display of sorts as they watched the Vols hit four homers. The Vols had 26 base runners on the day (13 hits, 11 walks and two hit by pitch).

Indiana drops to the losers bracket for a game against Southern Miss at noon Sunday. The winner advances to play Tennessee in the regional final at 6 p.m.

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Indiana's Connor Foley (14) and Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer talk during a NCAA Baseball Tournament Knoxville Regional game at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Saturday, June 1, 2024 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Indiana's Connor Foley (14) and Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer talk during a NCAA Baseball Tournament Knoxville Regional game at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Saturday, June 1, 2024 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Tennessee’s power surge buries IU baseball

Tennessee lived up to its reputation as the best slugging team in Division I.

The Volunteers came into the game ranked first as a team with 150 home runs, including the three they hit in their opening-round game against Northern Kentucky.

They added three more in the first three innings Saturday.

Tennessee went up 4-0 in the top of the second inning thanks to home runs from Dean Curley and Christian Moore. Third baseman Billy Amick hit a grand slam in the third inning on the first pitch he saw. It was Amick’s third straight game with a home run and the 12th grand slam of the season for the Vols.

That’s an SEC record and tied for second most in NCAA history.

It didn’t help that IU starter Connor Foley struggled with control. In the second inning, he walked three straight batters to load the bases, hit a batter and threw multiple wild pitches that allowed base runners to advance.

It didn’t get any better for Foley in the third, when he walked in a run after loading the bases. He threw 91 pitches in just 2⅓ innings of work, including 10 three-ball counts. He exited the game with a season-high seven walks.

Indiana reliever Ryan Kraft reloaded the bases after allowing the grand slam, but struck out Curley to end the inning.

IU baseball’s comeback attempt falls shot of the mark

Indiana forced Tennessee to make multiple calls to the bullpen in the sixth inning. Volunteers coach Tony Vitello turned to Aaron Combs to work out of a bases-loaded jam with one out after the team gave up a pair of runs in the inning.

Combs shut down the potential rally by striking out Nick Mitchell and forcing Brock Tibbitts to ground out.

Indiana’s star outfielder Devin Taylor put a dent in Tennessee’s lead with a three-run bomb to left field in the bottom of the third, but the excitement over his 19th home run of the season was short-lived.

The Volunteers catcher Cal Stark hit a home run in the fourth and Kavares Tears hit a two-run single in the fifth as IU cycled through its bullpen.

“Everybody signed up for a full day of work here,” Vitello joked during an interview ahead of the fifth inning.

The Hoosiers also loaded the bases in the fourth inning, but Josh Pyne popped up to second base to end the inning. Pyne did hit a single in the third to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 32 games.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana baseball clubbed by No. 1 Tennessee in NCAA baseball regional