Drew Gilbert, one of the best players on the Tennessee Volunteers and a well-regarded outfield prospect in Major League Baseball’s upcoming amateur draft, will be suspended for Saturday’s super regional game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish after he was ejected from Friday night’s contest for unsportsmanlike conduct toward an umpire. (Joe Rexrode of The Athletic confirmed as much with the university’s athletic department.)
Gilbert’s ejection occurred during the bottom of the fifth inning and with the Volunteers trailing the Fighting Irish 8-2. He took a 1-0 fastball that appeared to miss the zone low, yet the umpire called it a strike. Gilbert expressed his frustration by stepping toward the umpire and making what appeared to be a profane comment. Here’s the latter part of the sequence as it played out on the ESPN broadcast:
Gilbert, 21, is required to miss Saturday’s game based on the NCAA’s rules about ejections, and that could prove to be a pivotal development as a loss on Friday would put the Volunteers in a win-or-go-home situation on Saturday. (The super regionals are a best-of-three series.) The winner of this series will advance to play the winner of the Texas-East Carolina series.
It should be noted that the Volunteers finished the regular season ranked by D1Baseball as the best team in the country thanks to a 49-7 record. No other team ranked in the top 25 finished the season with fewer than 10 losses. They were also deemed the top overall seed in the tournament by the NCAA selection committee.
Playing without Gilbert certainly won’t help Tennessee’s chances of staving off elimination. In 56 regular season contests, he amassed a .373/.466/.694 slash line with 11 home runs, 25 doubles-plus-triples and four stolen bases. He also walked one more time (33) than he struck out (32) despite playing in the Southeastern Conference.
Scouts who have spoken to CBS Sports about Gilbert say he’ll be able to remain in center field at the next level, and that he’ll provide value as a high-energy type.