The Tennessee baseball team put up a score more typical of a football game against Texas A&M on Sunday,
The Vols split a Saturday doubleheader with Texas A&M after a rainout Friday, then dropped the Aggies 20-7 (!!!) to win the game and the series.
6-4 freshman righty Blade Tidwell got the start for the Vols and gave up a solo home run to A&M left fielder Austin Bost in the bottom of the first inning. Other than that, Tidwell cruised through the first four-ish innings until things blew up. I’ll circle back to that shortly.
The Tennessee bats stayed quiet through the first two innings then came to life in the third. Left fielder Pete Derkay hit a solo shot to deep left to start things off then Jordan Beck singled and leadoff man Liam Spence singled in back-to-back at bats. Jake Rucker reached on a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat which lead to a throwing error on A&M that allowed Beck to score. Drew Gilbert then broke out of a 2-39 slump with a double to center that cleared the bases and scored two more runs for the Vols.
UT added one more run in the fourth when catcher Connor Pavolony singled to start then inning and then scored when A&M walked three of the next four Tennessee batters.
Tennessee looked primed to cruise through the game as it did in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader until things got dicey for Tidwell in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tidwell had settled in after the solo shot in the bottom of the first, keeping the Aggies hitless in the next three frames until his control started to wane.
The young righty for the Vols walked two straight to start off the bottom of the fifth and then allowed a run on a throwing error. Two balls from Tidwell ended up getting past Pavolony, and Texas A&M went on to score five runs off Tidwell and senior relief pitcher Sean Hunley to take a 6-5 lead. The Vols had communications issues between the pitcher and catcher a couple time and ended up making three errors for the game. Those issues need to be cleaned up.
Evan Russell and first baseman Luc Lipcius went deep on back-to-back plate appearances in the seventh as the Vols responded with a five-run inning of their own to grab back the lead at 10-6. This time, Tennessee took the lead and didn’t give it back. Russell hit two 3-run home runs for the game with that first one in the seventh and another one in the top of the ninth.
With the win Sunday, Tennessee took the series 2-1 in College Station. Jake Rucker and Drew Gilbert, the three-and-four hole hitters for the Vols, combined to go 5-9 on Sunday with Rucker smashing 8-13 with a homerun in the three games combined. The Vols’ offense plated 31 runs total in the three-game series.