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Men’s College World Series Finals: Texas A&M pummels Tennessee in Game 1

Men's College World Series Finals: Texas A&M pummels Tennessee in Game 1

Texas A&M’s Ali Camarillo (center) celebrates after scoring a run against Tennessee during Game 1 of the College World Series finals. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Texas A&M is one win away from winning its first NCAA baseball championship after defeating Tennessee, 9–5, in Game 1 of the 2024 College World Series finals on Saturday night. The two teams play again on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET with the Volunteers facing elimination.

The No. 3 seed Aggies quickly knocked the No. 1 Vols back on their heels with a leadoff home run from third baseman Gavin Grahovac. Another run was added on an RBI single by Caden Sorrell to build a 2–0 first-inning lead.

A five-run third inning effectively put the game away for Texas A&M. A throwing error by Vols third baseman Billy Amick allowed one run to score, followed by two more runs coming in on a single from second baseman Kaeden Kent.

The Aggies could probably have scored more if they hadn't attempted a squeeze bunt with runners on first and third, but Jackson Appel was thrown out at home for the first out of the inning. That soon didn't matter with four more runs scoring.

Tennessee led the nation in home runs and finally flexed its muscles in the seventh with back-to-back home runs by Dylan Dreiling and Hunter Ensley to cut A&M's lead to 9–5, but the deficit was ultimately too much to overcome.

"We've been here before. This isn't new to us," said Vols pitcher A.J. Causey afterward. "We've fought through it. We've got some of the best hitters in the country."

Texas A&M likely would've added a run in the fourth if not for an outstanding catch by Tennessee's Kavares Tears, diving to snare the ball on the warning track in left-center field. That ended the inning and stranded Hayden Schott on second base.

Starting pitcher Ryan Prager was the beneficiary of that early offense. He allowed two runs and eight hits over six innings, but also struck out six Vols. The sophomore left-hander was Texas A&M's top starter this season, compiling an 8–1 record and 3.10 ERA in 17 starts with 114 strikeouts in 87 innings coming into Saturday's game.

On the other side, A.J. Causey was battered after taking over for opener Chris Stamos. In 3 2/3 innings, the junior right-hander gave up five runs (four earned) and six hits, taking the major damage in that pivotal third inning. During the season, Causey led the Vols with 109 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings.

Kent (son of former National League MVP Jeff Kent) batted 3-for-4 with four RBI. The sophomore's two-run homer in the seventh inning ended any chance the Vols may have entertained about a comeback, increasing A&M's to 9–2. Kent hit .284 with an .805 OPS and two home runs during the season.

Aggies closer Evan Aschenbeck fulfilled that role assertively, striking out seven of the 10 batters he faced in 2 2/3 innings. After throwing 46 pitches, he likely won't be available for Sunday's game but insists otherwise.

"It's the College World Series. I'll be ready to go," Aschenbeck said after the game. "There's no doubt in my mind that I'll be ready. I know Coach [Schlossnagle] will have me up and ready to go. I'll be up and ready to go."

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