Photo via Tennessee Athletics
Tennessee baseball’s offense and bullpen delivered as the Vols knocked off Texas A&M 9-6 Sunday afternoon to complete the weekend sweep of the Aggies.
Zane Denton was brilliant at the plate but nearly every Tennessee bat contributed while eight different bullpen pitchers recorded outs while surrendering three runs.
Here’s everything to know about the series finale victory.
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The Zane Denton Game
Alabama transfer infielder Zane Denton has spent most of the season in the middle of Tennessee’s lineup. However, Tony Vitello moved Denton to the bottom of Tennessee’s lineup each of the final two games of the weekend series.
After hitting in the seven-hole Saturday, Denton hit in the nine-spot on Sunday. Hitting last in the batting order, Denton was Tennessee’s best bat.
The Brentwood, Tennessee native came out hot and stayed hot. Denton provided Tennessee’s second hit and first two runs of the game when he took Justin Lampkin deep to left field on top of the third deck of porches.
With Tennessee and Texas A&M knotted at three in the fifth inning, Denton crashed Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle’s ESPN interview by leading off the bottom half of the inning with a solo homer to left field.
B5 | Sorry to interrupt, Zane’s gotta blast 🚀🚀
His second homer of the day puts the Vols back up, 4-3!#GBO // #OTH // #BeatTAMU pic.twitter.com/ZgD8UH7cTF
— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) March 26, 2023
The third baseman walked in his third at-bat and provided what felt like the dagger in his fourth at-bat, singling to left field to drive in a pair of runs with two outs. The hit gave the Vols a 9-3 lead in the seventh inning.
Denton entered the game with three home runs and nine extra-base hits on the season so the power wasn’t a massive surprise. However, the switch hitter had showed more pop from the left side of the plate this season. Both the long balls came from the right side of the plate.
Bullpen Arms High In Quantity And Quality
Tennessee Sunday starter Drew Beam had a solid outing, allowing three runs and two earned runs in 4.1 innings of action.
Beam’s departure began a game of musical chairs in the Tennessee bullpen. The Vols used eight different arms who were quite effective against the Aggies, allowing two earned runs in 4.2 innings pitched.
Seth Halvorsen got Tennessee out of the fifth inning, retiring two of the three batters he faced while intentionally walking the other batter.
Sophomore Aaron Combs stranded a pair of Aggies in the sixth inning to preserve the Tennessee lead before Tony Vitello got wonky in the seventh inning.
The sixth-year head coach used three different pitchers to retire the top of Texas A&M’s lineup in order. Zander Sechrist got Kasen Wells to fly out to left, AJ Russell got Hunter Haas to groundout to shortstop and Jake Fitzgibbons struck out Aggies’ star Jack Moss.
Fitzgibbons faced the first batter of the seventh inning, surrendering a walk before giving way to Andrew Lindsey. The lanky right-hander surrendered a single before striking out three straight batters to strand a pair of Texas A&M baserunners.
Lindsey came back out for the ninth inning where he surrendered a leadoff walk before exiting. LHP Kirby Connell came in and had trouble, allowing back-to-back hits before getting a RBI groundout.
Senior Camden Sewell relieved Connell and two more runs came home due to an error and a sac fly. Still, Sewell got the final two outs to clinch the series finale victory.
Balanced Offensive Production
One player driving in five runs makes it hard to call an offensive performance balanced, but Tennessee’s batting success was pretty balanced in the series finale.
Eight different players recorded hits and nine players reached base as Maui Ahuna added a walk in a hitless afternoon.
At the top of Tennessee’s batting order, Christian Moore reached base a pair of times while Blake Burke provided a RBI single in the sixth inning.
In the middle of the lineup, Jared Dickey looked like the professional hitter he is, reaching base three times in five plate appearances. While starting designated hitter Cal Stark struck out twice, freshman Dylan Dreiling pinch hit for him and drove in two runs with a double while also walking an at-bat later.
Denton clearly carried enough of the weight for the back end of the lineup himself but he wasn’t the only one that had success at the plate. Hunter Ensley recorded a pair of hits and even Christian Scott had a RBI single.
The success at the bottom of the order was particularly impressive. The backend lineup hasn’t been good to this point in the season and they were fantastic to cap off the Vols’ best offensive weekend of the season.
Tennessee baseball returns to Lindsey Nelson Stadium Tuesday when they face UNC-Asheville. First pitch is at 4:30 p.m. ET with the SEC Network+ streaming the game.