Tennessee advanced to the Men's College World Series with a 5-0 win over Southern Miss in a rain-delayed Game 3 of their Super Regional best-of-three series in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on Monday night.
Sophomore right-hander Drew Beam started on the mound for the Volunteers and was outstanding, shutting the potent Eagles' offense down over the first six innings of the contest, when he gave up five hits but walked only one while striking out seven. He left with runners on first and third after Southern Miss opened the seventh inning with a pair of singles.
Even then, the Vols held off Southern Miss as Aaron Combs came on to strike out the only batter he faced -- and then closer Chase Burns replaced Combs and went on to get the final two outs of the inning without any damage being done.
The big offensive blow for Tennessee came in the bottom of the fifth when Zane Denton blasted a three-run homer.
Maui Ahuna added a solo homer for UT in the bottom of the seventh, making it a 5-0 game.
Earlier, the Vols took a 1-0 lead in the second when Christian Moore reached on an infield single, Denton walked, and then Moore came around to score on an RBI single through the right side of the infield by Griffin Merritt.
Though they didn't know it at the time, that was the only run they really would need because of the combined excellent pitching of Beam, Combs and Burns.
Burns went the final 2.2 innings, giving up one hit and one walk while striking out four to earn the save. Beam got the win.
The start of the game was delayed by more than four hours as severe thunderstorms rolled through the Hattiesburg area. First pitch did not occur until 10:06 ET.
HOW IT HAPPENED
B2 | Moore reached on infield single to third. Denton walked. Merritt singled to right, scoring Moore. Tennessee 1, Southern Miss 0.
B5 | Ahuna walked. Hunter Ensley sacrificed to the pitcher, advancing Ahuna to second. Jared Dickey flied out to center for the second out, with Ahuna advancing to third. Moore was hit by a pitch and stole second, placing runners on second and third. Denton launched a three-run homer to center, clearing the bases. Tennessee 4, Southern Miss 0.
B7 | Ahuna led off the inning with a solo home run. Tennessee 5, Southern Miss 0.
Tennessee (43-20) advanced to the Men's College World Series, which begins this Thursday in Omaha, Nebraska. This marks the second trip to the MCWS in three years for the Volunteers, who are ranked No. 21 nationally and were not named one of the top 16 seeds for the NCAA Tournament.
The season is over for Southern Miss, which entered the series ranked No. 13 in the nation.