Tennessee rallies past Texas A&M, 4-1, to even the MCWS at one win apiece

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Two-run homers by Dylan Dreiling in the seventh inning and Cal Stark in the eighth propelled the top-seeded Tennessee Volunteers past the No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies 4-1 on Sunday at the Men’s College World Series.

With the win, Tennessee evened the best-of-three MCWS title round at one win apiece, with the third and deciding game scheduled for Monday.

Coming into Sunday afternoon at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Neb., the Aggies were 9-0 in the NCAA tournament and 4-0 in the MCWS and needed to win only once to clinch their first national championship in baseball.

They got off to a good start with Jace LaViolette hitting a solo home run in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. But that was it for the Aggies, who were limited to seven hits on the day.

In the wake of the game, the Volunteers were talking about how it feels to come within one game of the school’s first championship.

“It feels pretty dang good,” Stark told ESPN reporter Kris Budden. “You know, we got a lot of work left to do. We got to play nine innings tomorrow against a really good team. I mean, Game 3, final game of the year. What else could you want?”

With Tennessee’s season on the line, Dreiling continued to swing a hot bat in clutch situations. On Saturday, in Game 1 of the series, he hit a two-run homer in a three-run seventh. The Vols ultimately fell short, losing 9-5. On Sunday, he connected again, this time in a difficult lefty-on-lefty situation.

He clubbed a pitch from freshman Kaiden Wilson over the right field wall, giving the Vols a 2-1 lead.

In the eighth, the Vols struck again, this time with Stark doing the honors. He came to the plate with one on base and in an 0 for 16 skid in the MCWS, but he re-directed a Wilson pitch over the wall for his 11th homer of the season and his first since June 9. With one swing, Tennessee opened a 4-1 advantage.

“I was glad I could come through for my teammates,” Stark said. “I obviously haven’t had the best series. So, just trying to keep grinding, keep grinding at the plate.”

Tennessee pitching had a good day, striking out 12. The Vols got four innings out of starter Drew Beam and four more from Aaron Combs, who was roughed up in the Vols’ MCWS opener against Florida State. In the ninth, Combs, Kirby Connell and Nate Snead all pitched for the Vols, who had to hold on at the end to win.

Ted Burton led off against Combs and poked a single into left field. Connell entered at that point and yielded a single to Caden Sorrell. With the potential tying run at the plate, the Vols brought in Snead, who would face Ali Camarillo. On a slow ground ball to the right side, second baseman Ariel Antigua, whose only play was to slap a tag on Sorrell.

Not only was Sorrell the first out, he also went back to the dugout with a bloodied eyebrow. The next batter, red-hot Kaeden Kent, flied to the outfield for the second out. At that juncture, with runners at first and third, A&M sent in pinch hitter Ryan Targac. During his at bat, Camarillo took second base, and then Targac flied to right to end the game.

Despite the loss for Texas A&M, LaViolette emerged from a batting slump with a two-for-two day. Additionally, reliever Chris Cortez relaced opener Zane Badmaev in the second inning and pitched 4 and 1/3 shutout innings. He allowed two hits and walked five but had good life on his pitches, striking out seven.

“I guess the difference in the game were the two, two-out homers,” Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “They got the big swings at the right time, but we battled back. Combs obviously settled down the game really well for them. I thought Chris (Cortez) battled. I was proud of Kaiden Wilson. Just, two pitches got him. Dreiling was on the fast ball, and (Wilson) hung a breaking ball to the catcher.

“Close ball game, just exactly what you’d expect with these two teams. To think you’re going to roll right through it in two games is … that would have been nice. We get to play. We don’t have to play, we get to play the last college baseball game of the season, and that’s awesome.”


Texas A&M

Overall 53-14
In the NCAA tournament 9-1
In the MCWS 4-1


Overall 59-13
In the NCAA tournament 9-2
In the MCWS 4-1


Tennessee gave itself a chance to become the first No. 1 national seed in the NCAA baseball tournament to win a championship since the Miami Hurricanes did it in 1999.

Coming up

Texas A&M vs. Tennessee, Game 3 of the MCWS championship round, 6 p.m.

College World Series: Breaking down the 8-team field

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

With the Men’s College World Series opening today, here are the eight teams and how they stacked up in wins and losses, through the regular season and in the postseason.

We’ll also include head-to-head records against opponents in their respective CWS brackets.

Additionally, look for each team’s top players and CWS history:

Friday’s games

(4) North Carolina vs. (12) Virginia

North Carolina

Record: 47-14
Record in NCAA tournament: 5-1
Record v Virginia: 1-2
Record v Tennessee: 0-0
Record v Florida State: 0-0
Record v ACC (regular season): 22-8
Record ACC tournament: 1-1
Record v SEC: 2-1

The skinny: Outfielders Vance Honeycutt and Casey Cook hope to lead the fourth-seeded Tar Heels to their first national title. Honeycutt is a possible first-round pick in the MLB draft. This is North Carolina’s 12th CWS appearance and its first since 2018.


Record: 46-15
Record in NCAA tournament: 5-0
Record v North Carolina: 2-1
Record v Tennessee: 0-0
Record v Florida State: 0-1
Record v ACC (regular season): 18-12
Record ACC tournament: 1-1
Record v SEC: 3-0

The skinny: Virginia is making its third CWS appearance in the last three years and its seventh overall. The Cavaliers won their only title in 2015. Designated hitter Ethan Anderson and shortstop Griff O’Ferrall made all ACC first team.

(1) Tennessee vs. (8) Florida State


Record: 55-12
Record in NCAA tournament: 5-1
Record v Florida State:
Record v North Carolina: 0-0
Record v Virginia: 0-0
Record v SEC (regular season): 22-8
Record SEC tournament: 4-1
Record v ACC: 0-0

The skinny: Tennessee is in the CWS for the third time in four years and for the seventh time overall, with their best finish as runner up in 1951. The Vols are the No. 1 overall seed for the second time in three years. Second baseman Christian Moore has produced 101 hits, 32 home runs and 71 RBI. Blake Burke leads Tennessee in batting at .376. Moore is second at .375.

Florida State

Record: 47-15
Record in NCAA tournament: 5-0
Record v Tennessee: 0-0
Record v North Carolina: 0-0
Record v Virginia: 1-0
Record v ACC (regular season): 17-12
Record ACC tournament: 3-1
Record v SEC: 3-0

The skinny: Looking for their first national title, the Seminoles are in the CWS for the 24th time. They’ve been runner up in 1970, 1986 and 1999. James Tibbs III won ACC Player of the Year honors, and he joined pitcher Jamie Arnold on the all-conference first team. Tibbs has powered the Seminoles with 28 HR and 94 RBI. Cam Smith leads the team in batting with a .402 average, with Tibbs second at .374.

Saturday’s games

Kentucky v North Carolina State


Record: 45-14
Record in NCAA tournament: 5-0
Record v North Carolina State 0-0
Record v Florida: 2-1
Record v Texas A&M: 0-0
Record v SEC (regular season): 22-8
Record SEC tournament: 2-1
Record v ACC: 1-0

North Carolina State

Record: 38-21
Record in NCAA tournament: 5-1
Record v Kentucky 0-0
Record v Texas A&M 0-0
Record v Florida 0-0
Record vs. ACC (regular season): 18-11
Record ACC tournament: 1-1
Record vs. SEC: 3-1

Florida v Texas A&M

Texas A&M

Record: 49-13
Record in NCAA tournament: 5-0
Record v Florida 1-2
Record v Kentucky 0-0
Record v North Carolina State 0-0
Record v SEC (regular season): 19-11
Record SEC tournament: 0-2
Record v ACC: 0-0


Record: 34-28
Record in NCAA tournament: 6-1
Record v Texas A&M: 2-1
Record v Kentucky 1-2
Record v North Carolina State 0-0
Record v SEC (regular season): 13-17
Record SEC tournament: 0-1
Record v ACC: 4-4