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Five things to know about the Diamond Vols’ first CWS opponent

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Tennessee’s ticket to Omaha has been punched. It may have taken three games, but the Diamond Vols knocked off the Evansville Purple Aces to advance to their seventh College World Series. The Aces, a surprise to make it to the Super Regionals, didn’t go down quietly, stealing a 10-8 win over the Vols on Saturday. However, top-ranked Tennessee came out on Sunday guns blazing, handily shooting down Evansville 12-1 to earn a spot in the CWS.  

The Vols’ first opponent in the CWS will be No. 8 Florida State Seminoles (47-15) who secured their spot in Omaha with a sweep of UConn in the Tallahassee Super Regional. Here are five things of note for this weekend’s matchup. 

A chip on their shoulders? 

As mentioned, this will be the Vols’ seventh trip to Omaha and they are looking for that elusive CWS championship. However, Florida State currently has the most CWS appearances without a championship at 23. So, is the 24th time the charm? Does FSU have more to prove?

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One to watch

FSU has a big offensive weapon on their roster and his name is James Tibbs III. Tibbs, the 2024 ACC Player of the Year, currently has 28 homeruns and 92 RBIs. In Saturday’s decisive game against UConn, Tibbs hit three round trippers and had five hits. Tennessee’s pitchers will need to find a way to keep him in the ballpark… and off the base pads.  

They have good pitching too

FSU didn’t make it this far on hitting alone. Sophomore Jamie Arnold has made a name for himself this season. A Golden Spikes Award nominee, Arnold has 155 strikeouts this year with a 2.77 ERA. He has five double-digit strikeout games including one where he struck out an astounding 17 against Pittsburgh back in May. 

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It’s been awhile

Tennessee hasn’t faced Florida State in the postseason – ever. The last time these two teams played each other was all the way back in 2007 when the ‘Noles swept the Vols in a three-game season opener. Head-to-head, FSU leads Tennessee all-time 7-4.  

Who’s better at small ball? 

Charles Schwab Field, home to the College World Series, is notorious for the lack of home runs hit. Tennessee leads all of college baseball with 173 dingers while FSU ranks seventh with 123. When you have two teams that rely on the long ball pitted against one another in unfriendly confines, who will make the necessary adjustments to win? 

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