Tennessee ran through 6 pitchers during its comeback bid on Florida State in the College World Series opener on Friday. Chris Stamos lasted only 3 batters before coach Tony Vitello made the move to AJ Causey. But Causey only lasted 1.2 innings before handing off to Kirby Connell. Connell gave way to Aaron Combs in the fourth, Combs handed off to Andrew Behnke in the seventh, who gave up a 2-RBI double on his second batter and then handed things over to Nate Snead.

Florida State scored a run in the first and then raced out to a 9-4 lead midway through the contest thanks to a 6-run third.

UT committed 3 errors defensively and allowed 9 walks. If not for a 4-run, ninth-inning rally, the conversation would be much different at this juncture. But the offensive explosion — capped by a 2-out, walk-off single from Dylan Dreiling — pushed the Vols into the winner’s bracket at the CWS.

“(Florida State pitcher Jamie) Arnold can certainly make the case that he’s the best pitcher in this thing. We had a coaches meeting and to quote Ace Ventura, “Why don’t you cry about it, saddle bags?” You’ll have to beat somebody good. So our guys toughened up pretty good there,” Vitello said after the game. “There was no gameplan other than to compete and they did a good job there.”

Some thought Florida State would be able to jump on Tennessee early given Stamos’ recent struggles on the mound. Counting Friday, he has only recorded 6 outs in 3 postseason appearances thus far. And he’s given up 4 earned runs during that time. Vitello was hoping for a more extensive showing on Friday.

“That bothers me that he came out of the game that quick,” Vitello said. “It’s a different field, gorgeous field, but it’s a different field. And I don’t know that I managed our practice time as well as I needed to (Thursday). I mean, you don’t get much time to get used to it and they cut it. It’s not like our guys weren’t focused. I promise you, we coached, but it looked like we were disoriented in some of those situations.

“Stom was throwing the ball very well. As soon as I took one step out of the dugout, I’d have to look at the video, I forget what he said. Some sort of phrase. I don’t think there was a cuss word in there, but he was as frustrated as I was that we had to take him out. But then each guy after that kind of did what they had to do. Those are more works than you’re typically going to see out of a Coach Anderson pitching staff. They’re very dangerous in the lineup. There were some plays we could have made behind him. All in all, hot mess. It’s not going to be pretty. Doesn’t have to be pretty this time of year, just gotta keep fighting.”

Vitello said he did not envision the first inning unfolding the way it did — Stamos pulled early, a 2-1 UT lead against Arnold after 1 — and he didn’t think his team played outside of themselves. They didn’t get swept up in the moment. They didn’t rush. They just didn’t play to their ability.

“I don’t mean because we’re in Omaha or because the stakes are high, but the actual circumstances that were present on the field needed to be handled better by our guys,” Vitello said. “Sometimes, when you compete, you can cover up mistakes, and I think that’s what the definition of that is tonight. It was certainly a great example.”

The top-ranked Vols (56-12) will get Saturday off before facing No. 4 seed North Carolina on Sunday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The Tar Heels (48-14) were also walk-off winners on Friday, beating Virginia 3-2 in the afternoon game. Despite the early adversity, Tennessee (+195) is still the betting favorite to win the CWS at DraftKings.

Related: Want to bet on the action at the College World Series? Hit the link below to get started on DraftKings with one of the best sign-up bonuses on the market right now. 

DRAFTKINGS SPORTSBOOK

21+ and present in NY, NJ, PA, CT, AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, NC, NH, OH, OR, TN, VA, WV, WY. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

CLAIM OFFER

NEW USER BONUS

BET $5
GET $150

BET NOW!