Jordan Beck took a step and smacked his bat against his chest.
The Tennessee baseball outfielder took a couple more steps, then spiked the bat into the Lindsey Nelson Stadium turf. The ball was long gone to left field and the Vols were back, crushing the ball and overpowering an opponent.
No. 1 Tennessee (57-8) forced a Game 3 against Notre Dame (39-15) with its 12-4 win Saturday in the Knoxville Super Regional. The Vols and Fighting Irish play Sunday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN) for a spot in the College World Series.
Tennessee’s fifth-inning fireworks
Tennessee hit four fifth-inning home runs, scoring eight runs in the frame all via homers.
Beck had the mammoth shot, breaking the game open with a three-run homer to put the Vols ahead 5-0. First baseman Luc Lipcius homered twice in the inning. Evan Russell hit the fourth homer.
Tennessee scored first on a Trey Lipscomb double that scored Seth Stephenson in the first. UT had fallen behind in each of its past three games, including Friday’s 8-6 loss in the opener.
Chase Dollander set the tone
Chase Dollander painted the outside corner with a 96 mph fastball to Notre Dame’s Jack Brannigan for a first-inning strikeout. He struck out Carter Putz looking to end the first.
The Tennessee ace didn’t let up.
He stifled Notre Dame, holding a one-run lead for the first four innings until the Vols broke the game open in the fifth. Dollander struck out five and allowed two runs on five hits with no walks in seven innings. He ended his outing with a strikeout, getting TJ Williams on a check swing.
Home run record over and over and over
Lipcius homered high off the batter’s eye in center field leading off the fifth to tie the Tennessee program record with 38. Russell came up later in the same hitting and slugged a homer to deep right, moving ahead of Lipcius and Todd Helton with home run No. 39 of his career.
Lipcius wasn’t done. He hit a three-run homer onto the porches later in the fifth, to tie Russell and become the third player in program history to hit two homers in the same inning.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.