The Tennessee Volunteers entered the College World Series as many expert’s favorites to win the National Championship, now they find themselves on the brink of elimination. Following nine innings of baseball in which everything seemed to go right for the Cavaliers of Virginia, the Vols found themselves on the losing end of a 6-0 bout with the Hoos. Behind a terrific pitching performance by Andrew Abbott and a storybook game from Catcher Logan Michaels, Virginia moved one step closer to their goal of winning a title. Here’s the breakdown:
The game started off quietly as Abbott and Volunteer starter Chad Dallas traded punches. Both teams were held scoreless in the first three innings, apart from one swing off the bat of catcher Logan Michaels. Michaels deposited a ball into left field for his first HR of the season, one that would propel to Cavs to a one run lead.
That home run in particular was one of the most emotional moments of the entire college baseball season. As Michaels hit his first Home Run of the year, Virginia fans celebrates all throughout the stands. However, one fan’s reaction stood out above the rest: his father. Logan’s father, Jeff, was in the stands on Father’s Day to watch his son play in Omaha. Three years ago, Greg was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and has been battling over the course of Logan’s career. The home run itself was emotional for Father and Son, and the moment was amplified even further when Jeff received the ball hit out of the yard. When asked about the hit during the post game conference, Michaels provided an emotional yet excited answer “There’s no words for it. Just for someone to bring him the home run ball and obviously for it to happen on Father’s Day at the College World Series, I mean, definitely a special moment for our family and for my dad and I.”
From there, the focus of the game shifted to pitcher Andrew Abbott who was tasked with starting the game for Virginia. Abbott dominated for Virginia, letting up just five hits and striking out ten batters. Abbott was notably proficient with the high fastball, which he used to fool the Volunteer batters. There were two instances, one in the 5th and one in the 6th, where Tennessee threatened, but timely defense and a couple of key strikeouts where what allowed Abbott to escape and push through his shutout effort. Abbott left the mound following the end of the 6th inning with a win opportunity in hand and a reliance on the Cav bats to come through.
Immediately after his exit, Virginia did just that. In four straight at bats, the Cavaliers strung together RBI singles which slowly and incrementally bumped up the score by one a piece. By the time Tennessee managed to escape the frame, the 1-0 lead was multiplied out to a 5-0 advantage. On the mound, the ball was then handed to Matt Wyatt, the Cavalier reliever. In three innings, Wyatt allowed one hit and struck out three, holding the Volunteers futile in their run scoring efforts. The rough day at the plate and on the mound for Tennessee ultimately ended in a 6-0 loss and a sour taste in the Vols’ mouth.
TN Head Coach Tony Vitello discussed a “lack of conviction” during the game and was quoted as saying the following:
“Anyone who has met my dad knows that this evening won’t be quite as joyous as it could have been with a win. But that’s kind of the nature of competitiveness. And he gets to sit in the stands on Tuesday, too. So I hope I do a little bit better job with our guys. And I hope all the Vol fans, like I said, that went well out of their way — it’s astounding how many people were at our hotel — get what they deserve and get basically a soulful effort out of our guys.”
The lack of soul was a condemning factor for a Volunteer club that now finds themselves on the outside looking in. With one loss left before elimination there is a lot of work left to do if Tennessee wants their phenomenal run to continue. As for the Cavaliers, there is likely nothing to complain about. For them it most definitely was a happy and productive Father’s Day. Just ask Logan Michaels.