At one point Saturday, Tennessee baseball was down two runs, with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning. About two hours later, the Volunteers were celebrating the wildest win of the 2023 NCAA baseball tournament.
The Volunteers took down Clemson, the top team in their region and the No. 4 seed of the tournament, in a 14-inning epic that saw them one play from defeat multiple times.
Clemson entered the ninth inning up 4-2, thanks to a four-run fifth inning keyed by a Cam Cannarella home run. Starting pitcher Caden Grice got two groundouts and was on the verge of a complete-game win but got into trouble after back-to-back walks put runners on the corners.
Clemson coach Erik Bakich moved Grice to first base and called in Ryan Ammons to face third baseman Zane Denton. Ammons got ahead 2-2, and then, well, see for yourself:
THIS HAS TO BE A DREAM
VOLS PUT TWO ON WITH TWO OUTS AND ZANE BLASTS A THREE-RUN SHOT TO GIVE TENNESSEE THE LEAD DOWN TO ITS FINAL STRIKE pic.twitter.com/ekdI48lTSQ
— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) June 4, 2023
Denton's three-run homer put the Volunteers up 5-4, but there was more game to play after catcher Cal Stark struck out to end the inning.
Clemson responded with its own ninth-inning rally, with a double, a passed ball and another double to tie the game and put Cannarrella at second base as the winning run with two outs. Will Taylor struck out to end the inning, but Clemson nearly won again in the 10th, when it loaded the bases with one out against Chase Burns.
Benjamin Blackwell appeared to give the Tigers the win with an RBI groundout — to the point that Clemson players and the crowd started celebrating. However, replay turned out to be Tennessee's friend, as the result was changed to an inning-ending double-play.
— ESPN (@espn) June 4, 2023
The game finally ended four innings later, when Hunter Ensley hit an RBI double to score Maui Ahuna from first base. One scoreless inning later, Tennessee had its win.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) June 4, 2023
You know a game is wild when both teams celebrate a win at some point and neither is after a go-ahead, ninth-inning home run.
The victory puts Tennessee in the driver's seat in the Clemson regional. Clemson will head to the loser's bracket to face Charlotte and will get a rematch if it wins, but it will need to win twice to make up for its loss Saturday and reach the super regional.