Tennessee defeats FSU to make its first MCWS Finals appearance in the modern era

Omaha, Neb. — After beating Florida State 7-2 on Wednesday to clinch its bracket, Tennessee is playing in the College World Series final for the first time in the modern era.

Xander Secrist held the Seminoles scoreless for six innings and the Volunteers rallied for four early runs to advance to their first best-of-three final against a No. 1 national ranking since 2009.

Tennessee’s win clinched its second straight all-SEC final appearance and third in four. The Volunteers (58-12) will play either Texas A&M or Florida for the championship starting Saturday. The Southeastern Conference will have at least one team in the finals for the 15th time in 16 years.

The Seminoles (49-17) came into the game fresh from their 12-11 loss to Tennessee in their CWS opener. They led 11-8 in the ninth inning of that game. A third-base umpire’s call went against FSU on Blake Burke’s check swing with two strikes and two outs, and Dylan Trailing drove in the winning run in the Vols’ walk-off victory.

Tennessee was in no doubt about the outcome of the rematch when it completed a three-game sweep through bracket play.

In their first CWS appearance in 1951, the Vols advanced to the one-game finals, losing 3–2 to Oklahoma. In those days, there were no preliminary rounds in the NCAA tournament; Teams are selected for the CWS based on regular season performance.

The Vols were swept under coach Tony Vitello after winning one of their five-game trip to Omaha in 2021 and 2023. They will try to become the first seed since Miami in 1999 to win a championship.

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FSU coach Linc Jarrett started John Abraham in place of John Abraham, who pitched Friday and will be coming off four days rest. Abraham (5-2) made his first start April 9 and third of the season. He struggled with his control and only faced five batters before striking out one.

Tennessee went up 4-0 when Burke drove in a run in the second, and he finished the scoring in the ninth when he hit his 20th home run of the season. It made the Vols the first team in Division I history to have five players with at least 20 homers. They have 178, nine shy of the Division I record set by LSU in 1997.

Sechrist (5-1) came into the game 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 23 innings over his previous four starts. His scoreless streak ended at 17 1/3 innings in the NCAA Tournament when Daniel Cantu and Alex Lodis hit homers in the top of the seventh.

It was brought up on Kirby Connell, nicknamed “Volley Fingers” for sporting a handlebar mustache like that made famous by Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers. Connell allowed one hit before turning things over to Ned Snead in the ninth.

In a CWS, Tennessee’s Cavarese Diers made a similar play against teammate Hunter Ensley on Sunday against North Carolina.

Tears chased down Marco Dingus’ deep drive to right center, catching the ball as it crashed into the wall, sending his sunglasses and hat flying.

Tears, the Vols’ regular right fielder, made his first start in center since April 23 because Ensley suffered a lower-body injury when he caught Anthony Donofrio’s deep fly to center just before hitting the wall. Ensley was the designated hitter against the Seminoles. And 4 to 1.

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