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Tennessee Volunteers Crowned as National Champions

 Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network  |    Jun 25th, 2024 9:53am EDT

Omaha, Neb. – The No. 1 team in the nation, the (60-13) University of Tennessee Volunteers won their first NCAA national championship in program history and beat their Southeastern Conference rival, the No. 3 (53-15) Texas A&M University Aggies 6-5 in the winner-take-all game of the National Championship series in Omaha.  

“Very surreal. Hard to center yourself. No better team to win for the University of Tennessee than a bunch of guys who were truly the definition of a team. And no better play for our program to, I think, be the winning run on that slide, a guy that’s just built with a ton of grit. And his teammates follow his leadership. And it’s a great example of how this group got things done, Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said during the post-game press conference.  

Tennessee has relied on its offense all year. In game three of the National Championship Series, it came through again with timely hits.  

“First of all, congratulations to the University of Tennessee. What an awesome, awesome team. Great series. Same number of hits. Same number of errors. Probably the difference in the ball game was timely hits, and some of their hits were homers, and ours weren’t,” Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle said during the post-game press conference.  

Christian Moore led off the bottom of the first inning with a 389-foot solo home run over the left-field wall, his 34th of the year, to make it 1-0.  

During the top of the third inning, Texas A&M got on the board, starting with center fielder Travis Chestnut laying down a bunt single with one out. Volunteers starting pitcher Zander Sechrist tried to get Chestnut out at first base and threw an errant throw past first baseman Blake Burke, resulting in Chesnut going to second base.  

After Chestnut stole third, third baseman Gavin Grahovic ripped an RBI single to left field, scoring Chestnut to tie the game at 1-1.   

In the bottom of the third inning, Tennessee scratched across their second run of the game, starting with Burke rocking a double off the center field wall to start the inning.  

Shortly after, left fielder Dylan Dreiling lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Burke to take the lead at 2-1.   

Schlossnagle went to his bullpen in the bottom of the third inning and called on relief pitcher Josh Stewart to replace starting pitcher Justin Lamkin.  

Lamkin threw 2.2 innings, allowing five hits, three earned runs, two walks, and two strikeouts. 

Tennessee pushed their third run of the game across a few moments after shortstop Dean Curley drilled an RBI single to left-center field, scoring center fielder Hunter Ensley to make it 3-1. Curley was thrown out at second base trying to stretch a single into a double, with left fielder Caden Sorrell throwing a strike to second baseman Kaeden Kent for the final out of the bottom of the third inning.   

Sechrist continued his dominant performance on Monday night and struck out the side in the top of the fifth inning. Striking out Kent and Chestnut swinging and then getting Grahovac to strike out looking on a full count to end the frame. 

In the top of the sixth inning, Vitello came out to the mound after Sechrist gave up one-out singles to catcher Jackson Appel to right field, and designated hitter Hayden Schott through the left side of the infield, and called on relief pitcher Nate Snead.   

Sechrist threw 5.1 innings, allowing six hits, one earned run, one walk, and seven strikeouts.

During the start of the bottom of the sixth inning, Schlossnagle called on relief pitcher Evan Aschenbeck to replace Stewart.  

Stewart threw 2.1 innings, allowing two hits, no earned runs, and one strikeout.  

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Volunteers delivered the dagger with Dreiling launching a two-run home run over the outstretched glove of right fielder Jace LaViolette into the Texas A&M bullpen, scoring third baseman Billy Amick to extend the lead to 5-1.  

“I kind of blacked out again in that moment. I know first pitch I overswung on a heater way up. And then I kind of just told myself, I said, “Just see the ball deep and just put a good swing on something.” He threw me a change-up over the middle, and I just almost tried to be late on it to stay back and put a good swing on it,” Dreiling said during the postgame press conference.   

A few moments later, Volunteers right fielder Kavares Tears rocked an RBI double off the center field wall, scoring Ensley from first base to make it 6-1.   

Ensley went around the tag of Appel to plate the sixth run of the game. The play was upheld for review, and the call remained safe.  

“Just natural instinct trying to make a play right there and get back on the inside part of the bag. And just was able to avoid the tag right there, and ended up being a pretty big run,” Ensley said during the post-game press conference.  

Vitello called on relief pitcher Dylan Loy after Snead gave up a lead-off single up the middle to Sorrell in the top of the eighth inning.   

Snead threw 1.2 innings, allowing two hits, one earned run, one walk, and one strikeout.  

Texas A&M mounted a mini comeback in the top of the eighth inning. Designated hitter Hayden Schott ripped an RBI single up the middle into center field, scoring Appel to cut the lead to four runs at 6-2.  

Sorrell, shortly after, rocked an RBI single to left field, scoring Grahovac to make it 6-3.  

Vitello once again went to his bullpen and called on relief pitcher Kirby Connell to replace Loy.  

Loy threw .1 innings, allowing two hits, one earned run, one walk, and one strikeout.  

Connell ended the inning with no further harm done.

In the top of the ninth inning, Vitello called on relief pitcher Aaron Combs to shut the door for the final three outs.   

Grahovac started the ninth inning with a double down the left-field line to begin the threat.  

A few moments later, Appel drove an RBI single to left field, scoring Grahovac to cut the deficit to 6-4.  

In the middle of designated hitter Hayden Schott’s at-bat, Grahovac advanced three times on the base paths with a catcher’s indifference grabbing second base, Combs attempting to throw to first with a balk being called, and scoring on a wild pitch to make it 6-5.   

Combs then settled down and got first baseman Ted Burton to strikeout swinging as the Volunteers won their first National Championship.  

 Tennessee Outfielder Dylan Dreiling won the Most Outstanding Player Award at the 2024 CWS.  

This is the eighth time in the College World Series that both teams from the same conference faced off in the National Championship Series.  

Tennessee was the first No. 1 seed to play in the CWS finals since the University of Texas in 2009. 

The last time the No. 1 team in the country won a National Championship title was the University of Miami in 1999.  

Tennessee ended the year leading the nation in home runs with 184.  

Photo Credit:  Head coach Tony Vitello of the Tennessee Volunteers celebrates with the national championship trophy. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

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Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network
Matthew (Matt) Tallarini is the Founder and Chief Correspondent for the World Baseball Network.