Down 3, Tennessee rallies in MCWS win over Florida St.

Dylan Dreiling hit a game-winning single into the left-center field in the bottom of the ninth inning as Tennessee stormed back from a three-run deficit to beat Florida State 12-11 in the Men’s College World Series on Friday.

The top-seeded Volunteers overcame sloppy defensive play and poor pitching, turning up their high-powered offense another notch at the end to win their first MCWS opener in five appearances since 2001.

Tennessee (56-12) will face North Carolina on Sunday night in the winner of Bracket 1. Florida State (47-16) will meet Virginia in a playoff game in the afternoon.

Christian Moore went 5-for-6 for the Volunteers while becoming the first player to hit for the cycle in MCWS since Minnesota’s Jerry Kindall did it against Ole Miss in 1956.

Tennessee, which led 9-4 in the fifth inning, overcame its biggest deficit to win on the road or at a neutral site since coming back from five runs down to win at UC Irvine in 2017.

The Volunteers, in the MCWS for a second straight year and third in the last four, trailed 11-8 in the bottom of the ninth. Kavares Tears, who homered earlier, tripled in the leadoff and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Moore came to bat with two outs and a runner on base and was on his final strike against Brennen Oxford (2-1) when he doubled into the left field corner.

“It was a fight, me against him, mano a mano,” Moore said. “I guess I won that.”

That brought in Blake Burke, who delivered the tying single up the middle after being able to make a break when third base umpire Shawn Rakos signaled that Burke had checked his swing on a pitch with two strikes.

“It was a check-wing, and I didn’t go,” Burke said. “I just kept fighting and this is the result.”

Florida State coach Link Jarrett’s body language in the dugout indicated he disagreed with the check-swing call. He didn’t directly address the play after the game. If the call had gone the other way, the game would have been over and Florida State would have won.

“You saw the game,” he told reporters. “I have to review every pitch in this game. There are factors that affect the outcome of the game, and I can’t tell from 90 feet away what happened with some of the things that happened. The pitch counts in these matches, and you saw the result.”

Burke advanced to second on Billy Amick’s single against Oxford, then Dreiling drove in the winning run on Connor Hults’ second pitch.

Nate Snead (10-2), Tennessee’s sixth pitcher, earned the win after holding the Seminoles scoreless on one hit over the final 2⅓ innings.

Moore, the Volunteers’ lead man and a top-15 pick in next month’s amateur draft, started his big night with a triple, his first since 2022, into the right-center gap in the first inning. He doubled in the second, singled in the fourth and drove the ball 440 feet straight to center for his 33rd home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth.

“The whole game I was trying to be on base and set the tone,” Moore said. “To be honest, I really didn’t know I made it (a hit for the cycle).”

The Volunteers’ first victory of the season came after a difficult first half of the match. They committed three errors in a game for only the second time this season. The three errors also match their most in 21 MCWS all-time games. Tennessee pitchers combined to allow 13 hits, walk a season-high nine and hit a batter.

Tennessee arrived in Omaha with a school-record 173 home runs and an average of 9.2 points per game for the season and 10.7 for the NCAA tournament. Burke said it was only a matter of time before the offense escalated.

“We threw a lot of punches throughout the game,” he said, “and landed the big punch in the ninth.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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