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Aggies Take Game One From Vols

OMAHA, NE- The Tennessee Volunteers became the first #1 overall seed since 2009 to clinch a berth in the National Championship Series when they defeated Florida State on Wednesday.  Despite the tag of being number one, The Vols were second in their arrival to the ballpark for game one of college baseball’s final stanza.  As they had done before their first three games in Omaha, instead of partaking in batting practice at Charles Schwab Field, Tennessee ran through their routine at Creighton’s practice field.  

Texas A&M, with their perfect NCAA Tournament Record, stuck to their routine by controlling the game from first pitch.  Aggie leadoff hitter and SEC Freshman of the Year Gavin Grahovac shook off any pregame jitters and clubbed Chris Stamos’ 0-2 pitch 372 feet to give the Aggies an early 1-0 lead.  Not to be outdone by his classmate, fellow Aggie Freshman Caden Sorrell laced a single up the middle scoring Jackson Appel for the second run of the night.

The Vols returned fire when Dean Curley’s single scored Dylan Dreiling in the home half of the second inning.  Curley’s RBI cut the Texas A&M lead to 2-1, though the Tennessee offense would have to get comfortable with trailing.  The Aggies put up a five spot in the third with RBI’s from Hayden Schott, Sorrel, Ali Camarillo and Kaeden Kent.  The offensive explosion brought the crowd of Rattlin Bog singing, maroon wearing Texan defects to life, though Rocky Top would soon reach their ears again.

Not fearing the crooked number, the Volunteer bats again placed a notch on the scoreboard, this time with Hunter Ensley’s perfectly placed single, scoring Blake Burke.  Prager was able to escape the threat, holding the Aggie lead at 7-2 through three innings of play.  The Aggie five run lead held as the game saw two additional Volunteer relievers turned to in times of crisis.  

Texas A&M continued to find grass, slapping eleven hits on the board across the first five innings, though relievers Kirby Connell and Marcus Phillips effectively kept them from crossing home plate.  The Tennessee offense threatened in the fifth with Burke and Billy Amick getting on board, though A&M reliever Josh Stewart was able to escape the threat with their five run advantage intact.  

The offense remained silent on both sides until Kent sent a missile into the right-field bullpen sending Camarillo home in the process.  The blast gave Texas A&M a 9-2 advantage in the seventh inning.  

Not going down without a fight, Dreiling came through again for the Vols.  His two-run homer cut the Aggie onslaught to 9-4 in the home half of the seventh, chasing Stewart out of the game.  Jim Schlossnagle called on Brad Rudis to manage the scrappy Volunteer offense, who appeared prime for a late-game push.  Hunter Ensley obliged, sending a homer of his own in to the left-field bullpen, making it 9-5.  

A turn to NCBWA stopper of the year Evan Aschenbeck spoiled the comeback desires for Tony Vitello’s team.  Aschenbeck threw two and two thirds innings, giving up two hits, striking out seven.  “Mindset was just to win, do anything I can to help this team win”, the nation’s top reliever said of his performance.  Schlossnagle adds “the moment is never too big” for Ashenbeck, “he doesn’t panic”.  

Tennessee’s AJ Causey shared a confidence in his team’s ability to bounce back on Sunday, feeling the Vols have been in this position before.  Vitello feels his team can play better and has found ways to respond throughout the season.  Tennessee will have to rely on those experiences on Sunday in order to force a game three.  Texas A&M will look to earn their first National Championship in program history at 1:00 local time tomorrow.

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