Tennessee wins first College World Series championship

Dylan Dreiling smashed a two-run homer in the seventh inning as part of a three-run surge, Hunter Ensley slid home for the decisive run, and Tennessee clinched its first baseball national championship with a 6-5 victory over Texas A&M on Monday.


Tennessee coach Tony Vitello commented, “There’s no better team to bring a national championship to the University of Tennessee than these guys, who epitomized teamwork. Hunter’s slide for the winning run exemplified pure grit. His leadership inspired his teammates, and it encapsulates how this group accomplished everything.”

Tennessee (60-13) accomplished several significant milestones with their championship-clinching victory. They became the first No. 1 overall seed to win the College World Series since Miami in 1999 and the first national champion to reach 60 wins since Wichita State in 1989.

Additionally, Tennessee is the inaugural Southeastern Conference team to achieve 60 wins in a single season, contributing to the SEC’s streak of producing five consecutive — and five different — national champions over the past five seasons. The SEC has now claimed six of the last seven College World Series titles. Previously, the Volunteers reached the College World Series in 2021 and 2023 and were eliminated in the super regionals as the No. 1 overall seed in 2022.

“We had unfinished business, especially since this marks our third appearance here in the last four years,” remarked Tennessee pitcher Zander Sechrist, who recorded seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings in Game 3. “In 2021, we fell short. In 2022, you could argue we were the best college baseball team ever. In 2023, we tasted victory here but didn’t complete the job. This year, ‘24, just felt different. Today, I feel blessed to finally get it done.”


Texas A&M (53-15) was also vying for its inaugural baseball national championship. Although they won Game 1 of the championship series, they ultimately lost the last two games.

In Game 2, the Aggies surrendered a late lead and fell 4-1, then mounted a comeback in Game 3 that fell just short. They rallied with two runs in the eighth inning and added two more in the ninth, narrowing a five-run gap to just one. However, Tennessee’s Aaron Combs sealed the victory by striking out Ted Burton to conclude the game.

Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle analyzed the series, noting it was closely matched in hits and errors. He attributed Tennessee’s win to timely hits, particularly their home runs, which differed from their own offensive output. Despite the outcome, Schlossnagle remained confident in his team’s ability to threaten in the ninth inning. Reflecting on the season, he acknowledged the disappointment of falling short in the College World Series, a moment every team hopes to avoid.

However, the pivotal moment came shortly afterward with Ensley’s slide. After Dreiling’s home run, Ensley singled and attempted to score from first base on Kavares Tears’ double to right center field. Despite the relay throw arriving ahead of him, Ensley evaded Texas A&M catcher Jackson Appel’s tag with a clever move to the inside, touching home plate with his hand to extend Tennessee’s lead to 6-1. Initially seen as an insurance run, this play ultimately proved decisive as Texas A&M mounted a late rally.

“Dean (Curley) was emphasizing ‘outside, outside, outside’ to me,” Ensley explained. “But the throw ended up carrying me toward the outside. It was just natural instinct to try to maneuver back to the inside part of the bag. I was fortunate to avoid the tag and it turned out to be a significant run.”


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