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Sam Harrigan | | February 17, 2023

Arizona knocks off No. 2 Tennessee in college baseball Opening Day surprise

Top college baseball pitchers entering 2023

From the MLB Desert Invitational at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona, unranked Arizona knocked off No. 2 Tennessee, 3-1, behind a strong Opening Day pitching performance by TJ Nichols.

Nichols, a junior righty out of California, threw six innings, allowing just one run to one of the nation's best offenses.

Facing Nichols on Opening Day was Tennessee's Preseason First Team All-America nominee Chase Dollander. While Dollander's first start of the season was not as dominating as most expected, he was solid, throwing 4.2 innings with seven strikeouts.

Both teams notched first-inning sacrifice flies, with Zane Denton flying a 1-0 pitch to centerfield to score Tennessee's first run of the year, and Arizona's Mac Bingham tying the game at one with a deep fly ball to right field.

In the bottom of the second inning, Arizona got back on the scoresheet as Tony Bullard took a 1-1 off-speed pitch deep into the Arizona night and out onto the brim beyond the left field fence to give the 'Cats their first lead of the night. But that was all for a while, as Chase Dollander retired the next 11 hitters he faced before giving up a baserunner and getting pulled with two outs in the fifth inning.

The pitcher's duel continued as each team ran through their bullpens for the first time this season until the bottom of the eighth, when Mac Bingham struck again, this time, his 2-out RBI double into no-man's land in left-center field gave Arizona a key insurance run going into the ninth inning.

On in the ninth for Arizona was Trevor Long, who allowed a one-out single but stranded the runner and secured Arizona's win with a huge called strikeout to close out the game.

Tennessee will look to rebound Saturday with a showdown against Grand Canyon, while Arizona meets Fresno State Saturday afternoon.

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Division I
Baseball Championship
June 16 - 26, 2023
Charles Schwab Field Omaha | Omaha, NE

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