College World Series highlights: Tennessee tops Texas A&M for first baseball national title

Tennessee second baseman Christian Moore (1) celebrates with assistant coach Josh Elander after hitting a home run against the Texas A&M during the first inning of Game 3 of the College World Series at Charles Schwab Field Omaha.

Rocky Top is now the top of the college baseball mountain.

Tennessee defeated Texas A&M 6-5 in the Men’s College World Series championship series winner-take-all game to capture the team’s first national championship in school history. The Volunteers with its 60th win became the first college baseball team to reach that mark since Wichita State won the title in 1989.

It didn’t take long for Tennessee to get on the board with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first from Christian Moore. The Aggies boasted one of the best pitching staffs this season, but it was the Tennessee pitchers that put on a dominant showing the majority of the night that made it a frustrating night for Texas A&M. A seventh inning filled with highlight plays proved to be much-needed insurance to hold off a late rally.

With the victory, the Volunteers also broke the No. 1 overall seed curse, becoming the first team Miami (Fla.) in 1999 to win the national championship as the top ranked team in the tournament. The national championship was 127 years in the making, ending a long title drought since Tennessee began playing baseball in 1897. The reached the championship round in 1951 but lost to Oklahoma.

It’s also another milestone of SEC domination in the sport. The conference has captured its fifth championship in a row with five different schools winning the College World Series dating back to 2019.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Celebrate Tennessee's national title with our new book

Watch Tennessee win national championship

Aaron Combs strikes out Ted Burton to win national title.

Texas A&M scores in ninth but falls short

Texas A&M is down to its final inning, but it added another score. Gavin Grahovac hit a leadoff double and two batters later, Jackson Appel brought him in to make it a 6-4 game with one out. They added another run on a wild pitch, but Aaron Combs struck out Ted Burton to end the game.

Kirby Connell ends eighth inning with strikeouts

Kirby Connell has been sensation for Tennessee, and he put an end to the Texas A&M scoring threat in the eighth inning with big-time strikeouts.

Connell struck out Kaeden Kent and Ryan Targac swinging and was pumped to end the frame as Tennessee it three outs away from a national championship with a 6-3 lead.

Texas A&M adds runs to cut deficit

Don’t count out the Aggies just yet.

A three-run seventh inning looked to be the nail in the coffin for a Tennessee victory, however Texas A&M is chipping away and making it a ballgame late.

Jackson Appel opened up the inning with a single and ended up advancing to third thanks to wild pitches from Dylan Loy. Hayden Schott then made solid contact for a single to bring in Appel, and two batters later, Caden Sorrell hit a double to left center and Schott turned on the jets to make it from first base to home to add another run. That be enough for Tony Vitello, opting to put in Kirby Connell in hopes of ending the threat.

Hunter Ensley avoids out at home to score on miraculous play

How did Hunter Ensley not get tagged out?

Tennessee outfielder Kavares Tears hit a double off the centerfield wall and Ensley boldly decided to go from first to home. The throw got to Texas A&M catcher Jackson Appel early and it looked to be an easy tag out at home. But Ensley maneuvered around the tag and his left hand touched home plate to score an incredible run and push the Volunteers ahead 6-1 heading to the eighth inning.

Tennessee has done a lot of its damage on the night with two outs. Four runs have been scored with two outs and the team is 8-for-14 in the situation.

Tennessee's Dylan Drieling hits massive home run

There's still two innings left, but Dylan Dreiling has moved Tennessee closer to its first baseball title.

Texas A&M ace reliever Evan Aschenbeck retired the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh before Billy Amick kept the Volunteers alive with a single. Dreiling hit a high-flying ball to the sky. It wasn't clear if the ball was gonna clear the fence, but right fielder Casey Sorrell ran out of room in trying to make a leaping catch. The two-run homer made it a 5-1 game.

Texas A&M can't capitalize with RISP

There isn't much time left, and Texas A&M missed a golden opportunity to cut the deficit or take the lead.

The Aggies had Kaeden Kent and pinch runner Ryan Targac on base with the top of the lineup on deck in the seventh inning. Gavin Grahovac just missed out on a massive hit with a deep fly out to right field. Jace Laviolette looked like he had a hit get passed first baseman Blake Burke, but Christian Moore was perfectly positioned to get the ball, get the throw to first and prevent the run from scoring.

Texas A&M is now 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position on the night.

Texas A&M brings in Evan Aschenbeck

Texas A&M needs to prevent Tennessee from extending the lead, and it's turning to the Division I ERA leader to assure that.

The Aggies brought in Evan Aschenbeck in the sixth inning and he is likely to go the distance in hopes the offense is able to come through late. Aschenbeck led the country with a 1.39 ERA.

Texas A&M chases Zander Sechrist

Zander Sechrist was sensational on Monday, but the Aggies were able to get him out of the game thanks to a pair of singles from Jackson Appel and Hayden Schott. Tennessee turned to closer Nate Snead to get out of the jam, and it worked, capped off with a spectacular catch by Blake Burke on a lineout.

Zander Sechrist dealing, strikes out the side

Zander Sechrist has been a star for Tennessee this postseason, and he very well could be the reason why the Volunteers are national champions. He struck out Kaeden Kent, Travis Chestnut and Gavin Grahovac in the fifth inning. He now has six strikeouts on the night and allowed one run on four hits.

He doesn't appear to be slowing down, but head coach Tony Vitello said his team is getting close to going to the bullpen.

Tennessee back in front with pair of runs

The tie game didn't last long after Tennessee responded to Texas A&M's first run with scores of their own in the third inning to retake the lead 3-1.

Leading off, Blake Burke showed off the power with a double to right centerfield to start the bottom of the third inning. He moved to third base after Billy Amick grounded out, and Dylan Dreiling hit a ball to deep center field that gave Burke plenty of time to tag and score. The Volunteers weren't done in the inning with back-to-back hits from Hunter Ensley and Kavares Tears, leading to Texas A&M taking out starter Justin Lamkin for Josh Stewart.

The Volunteers weren't done scoring yet. Dean Curley welcomed Stewart with a single to bring in Ensley. However, Curley got caught trying to extend the single to second base and was tagged out to end the inning.

Bunt leads to Texas A&M score

Small ball leads to a tie game.

Travis Chestnut’s decision to bunt proved to be effective as he eventually went around the bases to score and tie the game at 1-1 in the third inning.

Chestnut’s bunt was placed perfectly in front of home plate, and Tennessee catcher Cal Stark tried to get the runner out at first when it didn’t look like he had a play. It resulted in an erratic throw that let Chestnut get to second, and a few pitches later, he stole third base to put himself in prime scoring position. Gavin Grahovac capitalized with a single to left field to bring Chestnut in for the first run of the game for the Aggies.

Another mistake from Tennessee led to Texas A&M getting two runners on base, but the Volunteers caught a break with a double play to end the inning.

Pitchers put up scoreless second inning

Tennessee and Texas A&M both got a batter on base in the second inning, but neither side was able to do much with it in a scoreless second frame.

Justin Lamkin gave up the leadoff home run in the bottom of the first and allowed a couple of runners on base afterward, but he appeared more composed in the second inning, allowing only a walk that was aided by a pitch clock violation. On the other side, Zander Sechrist is off to another promising start with two early strikeouts and one hit allowed.

Tennessee stars shine in Omaha

Some of the top people from Knoxville are in attendance to root for Tennessee to win its first baseball national championship. Inside Charles Schwab Field is Volunteers icon Peyton Manning, football coach Josh Heupel and men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes. Also joining them was country music singer Morgan Wallen, a Tennessee native who was a notable baseball player in high school before an injury sent him a different direction.

Christian Moore hits leadoff home run for Tennessee

What a start for Tennessee.

After Zander Sechrist had a 1-2-3 inning, the Volunteers got on the board quickly thanks to Christian Moore. The second baseman got perfect contact on the bat and sent the ball over the wall for a leadoff home run to give the Volunteers the early lead. It was Moore's 34th home run of the year, third-most in Division I.

Texas A&M starter Justin Lamkin allowed two more base runners but worked out of the jam to keep the score 1-0 heading to the second inning.

Tennessee vs. Texas A&M: TV, time, streaming and how to watch

  • Date: Monday, June 24

  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

  • Cable TV: ESPN

  • Streaming: ESPN+; YouTube TV; fuboTV

Heat turned up in Omaha

It'll be a hot one inside Charles Schwab Field, where the temperature is 99 degrees at the time of first pitch between Texas A&M and Tennessee, according to AccuWeather. Temperatures are expected to go down as the game goes on, but it'll still be warm with temperatures forecasted to be in the low 90s by 9 p.m. local time. Keep an eye on how the pitchers and hitters handle the heat.

Tennessee starting lineup

  1. Christian Moore, 2B

  2. Blake Burke, 1B

  3. Billy Amick, 3B

  4. Dylan Dreiling, LF

  5. Hunter Ensley, CF

  6. Kavares Tears, RF

  7. Dean Curley, SS

  8. Cannon Peebles, DH

  9. Cal Stark, C

Texas A&M lineup

  1. Gavin Grahovac, 3B

  2. Jace LaViolette, RF

  3. Jackson Appel, C

  4. Hayden Schott, DH

  5. Ted Burton, 1B

  6. Caden Sorrell, LF

  7. Ali Camarillo, SS

  8. Kaeden Kent, 2B

  9. Travis Chestnut, CF

Tennessee starting pitcher

The Volunteers will go with Zander Sechrist on the mound to start Game 3. The left-handed senior from Buford, Georgia is 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA and 17 starts this season.

Sechrist is coming off one of his best performances with Tennessee when he was the starter in the national semifinal matchup with Florida State. He tied a career-high 6.1 innings pitched with just two runs allowed on five hits in a 7-2 win over the Seminoles. He's been on fire in the postseason; in three NCAA Tournament games this year, he has pitched 17.1 innings and has allowed only two earned runs on 15 hits with 12 strikeouts.

Texas A&M starting pitcher

Justin Lamkin will get the start for Texas A&M in the championship game. The sophomore is 3-2 season with a 5.00 ERA and 15 starts in 2024.

Although the ERA seems high, Lamkin has been excellent for the Aggies in Omaha. He pitched in both wins over Florida, including the one to send Texas A&M to the championship series, when he struck out nine Gators and gave up no runs. In eight innings in Omaha, Lamkin has 15 strikeouts and given up four hits.

Tennessee vs. Texas A&M prediction

As we look ahead to tonight’s decisive game, there are positive cases to be made for both Tennessee and Texas A&M to emerge victorious. The Aggies, despite missing out on the opportunity to clinch, came out of game two with its pitching staff in relatively good shape. A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle was able to keep bullpen ace Evan Aschenbeck in reserve after he successfully closed out game one, and one definitely likes the Aggies’ chances if they can get the ball to him with the lead in the late innings. That could be easier said than done, however, as A&M’s big bats have been largely silent outside of the big second inning on Saturday.

This brings us to the case for Tennessee, which has already gotten one solid start out of Xander Sechrist in Omaha, and coach Tony Vitello will be counting on him to deliver another. The more urgent issue for the Volunteers has been their inability to take advantage of a slew of baserunners, stranding a hefty 19 over the first two games.

One has to think, however, that if the Aggies continue to give the Vols’ big hitters chances, they’ll eventually deliver. While the concept of momentum in sports is nebulous and often fleeting, right now it’s on Tennessee’s side. It will likely be close, but we’ll take the healthier Volunteers to claim the crown. -- Eddie Timanus

Texas A&M players to watch

  • How the Aggies can get the lead will depend on their hitting. Jace LaViolette and Gavin Grahovac topped 20 home runs with Grahovac providing the only run Sunday with a long ball. Kaeden Kent, son of former major leaguer Jeff Kent, is providing the hottest bat. Pressed into action due to a season-ending injury to Braden Montgomery, Kent has hit .450 provided a home run and 7 RBI in Omaha.

  • The Aggies will turn to Justin Lampkin to start Game 3 with the sophomore hoping to continue his success after throwing scoreless eight innings across two outings against Florida at the CWS. Waiting to pick up the baton is ace reliever Evan Achenbeck, who leads the nation in ERA. He'll be rested after two spotless innings Friday and could be summoned well before that if the Aggies have the early lead.

Tennessee players to watch

  • Zander Sechrist gets the ball for the Volunteers in Game 3. The senior lefty is second on the staff with a 3.22 ERA after two clutch starts in the postseason - a win against Evansville in their decisive super regional game and a strong effort against a powerful Florida State lineup that sent Tennessee to the championship series. Nate Sneed notched his sixth save in Sunday's win and could be called on again.

  • Where the Tennessee offense gets its offense from is anybody's guess. With a lineup that boasts five players that reached 20 home runs, there's danger everywhere. Christian Moore and Blake Burke, the two leading hitters, are the tablesetters at the top of the lineup. Dylan Dreiling hit a key home run Sunday and is second on the team in RBI with 72, one behind Moore.

Tennessee vs. Texas A&M betting: Odds, spread for College World Series

The Volunteers are favored take home the title, according to the BetMGM college baseball odds. Looking to wager? Check out the best mobile sports betting apps offering 2024 sports betting promos.

Odds listed as of Monday.

  • Spread: Tennessee (-1.5)

  • Moneyline: Tennessee (-250); Texas A&M (+185)

  • O/U: 10.5

College World Series bracket: Remaining schedule

College World Series championship series rundown

  • Game 1: Texas A&M 9, Tennessee 5

  • Game 2: Tennessee 4, Texas A&M 1

  • Game 3: Monday, June 24, 7 p.m. ET

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College World Series score: Tennessee tops Texas A&M for baseball title