In a series of unlikely events, Notre Dame has gone into Knoxville, Tennessee, at Lindsey Nelson Stadium and has defeated the mighty Tennessee Volunteers to advance the Irish to the College World Series. Coming into this Super Regional weekend, nobody picked Notre Dame to escape Knoxville with a series win over the Volunteers, yet, the Irish did just that.
Watching Notre Dame do the unthinkable this weekend was just a slice of humble pie that was the way of the Volunteers. All season long, College Baseball folks told Tennessee just how great they were, and all they would have to do was show up this weekend the Volunteers would be heading to their second straight College World Series.
However, Baseball is the one sport that will humble you without warning. Tennessee had developed an attitude that many had taken as prideful and borderline disrespectful to the game of College Baseball. From cussing out umpires to trash littering the field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, Sunday seemed to be the final domino that needed to fall to humble both the Volunteers as a program and Tony Vitello as a Coach as well. Yet, as the season ends for the Tennessee Volunteers, one thing remains, the future is bright for the program. Eventually, Tennessee Baseball will cross the river to the other side filled with multiple College World Series appearances and a championship trophy to call their own.
For Notre Dame, they proved everybody wrong this weekend. Including myself, who had adamantly picked the Tennessee Volunteers to win the entire National Championship. Yet, here we are, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame heading to the College World Series, and are arguably one of the hottest teams in all of College Baseball.
Notre Dame did what nine other teams have done; that alone is a reason to celebrate if you’re an Irish fan. Notre Dame took the punches this weekend. They didn’t shy away from them; they settled down and played Fighting Irish Baseball. What Notre Dame did this weekend in Knoxville will forever go down in the history of College Baseball as one of the most heroic victories in the history of the College Baseball NCAA Tournament. Whatever you believe about College Baseball, the baseball mojo was smiling down on the Irish today.
There’s nothing like it. Notre Dame shut the entire College Baseball world up with two wins over the best team to never make it to the College World Series.
College Baseball is humbling. Every last one of us around the game of College Baseball was wrong about Notre Dame and was wrong to already name Tennessee the National Championship before playing all the remaining games.
Notre Dame as a program and the fans who support this team deserve this moment and should enjoy every second of it, even if it means calling out the College Baseball world for the love they gave Tennessee throughout the season.
No matter what happens in Omaha, this Notre Dame team will forever go down in the folklore of the program and the historic school that those men represent.