BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – No. 5 Tennessee exploded for 20 runs on 21 hits to pull away late and take the rubber game against Texas A&M, 20-7, on Sunday afternoon at Blue Bell Park in Bryan-College Station, Texas.
The Vols’ 20 runs were their most in an SEC game since defeating Georgia 25-5 on May 8, 2010. The Big Orange scored 15 runs over the final three innings after trailing 6-5 entering the seventh inning.
UT also set a new season-high with six home runs on the day, none bigger than Evan Russell’s three-run blast with Tennessee trailing by a run in the top of the seventh inning.
Liam Spence, Jake Rucker, Drew Gilbert, Evan Russell, Luc Lipcius, Connor Pavolony, Pete Derkay and Kyle Booker all had multiple hits in the game with Gilbert finishing with a career-high tying four base knocks and three RBI to lead the charge. Russell added a second three-run homer in the ninth inning to tie a career high with six RBI.
Senior right hander Sean Hunley earned the win to improve to 7-2 on the year after tossing 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. Fellow senior reliever Redmond Walsh picked up his fourth save of the season after pitching the final 2.1 innings. The save was the 15th of his career, moving him into sole possession of third on Tennessee’s all-time list.
For the first time in the series, the Aggies struck first courtesy of a solo home run by Austin Bost in the bottom of the first inning.
The Vols responded with a big inning in the third, scoring four runs to take a 4-1 lead. Derkay led off the inning with a no-doubt home run over the bullpen in right field to tie the game at one. Jordan Beck and Spence followed with back-to-back singles and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Ferguson. Beck scored to put UT ahead thanks to a throwing error by Aggies third baseman Bryce Blaum. One batter later, Gilbert lined a double into right center to plate two more runs and give the Big Orange a three-run lead.
After Tennessee added another run in the fourth on an RBI walk by Rucker, Texas A&M erased its deficit and took a one-run lead with a five-run fifth inning. The Aggies had four hits in the frame and took advantage of a UT error to go up 6-5.
The Vols punched back with another big inning of their own in the top of the seventh, plating five runs to retake the lead. After consecutive hits by Rucker and Gilbert to lead off the inning, Russell came up with yet another clutch home run, smashing the first pitch he saw well over the fence in center field. Lipcius followed with a long ball of his own, hitting a laser over the wall in right field to make it 9-6. The Big Orange added one more run later in the inning when Booker scored from third on a wild pitch to put Tennessee ahead 10-6.
A solo homer by Ferguson and an RBI single by Lipcius plated two more runs for UT in the eighth, giving the Vols a 12-6 advantage. The Vols exploded for eight more runs in the ninth, punctuated by Russell’s second three-run blast of the game and a solo shot by Pavolony.
The Vols return to Knoxville to take on Lipscomb on Tuesday night before hosting Kentucky at home next Thursday-Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
RUSSELL DOES IT AGAIN: Vols’ senior slugger Evan Russell recorded his third multi-homer game of the year and hit yet another clutch home run in Sunday’s win. His three-run blast to dead center in the seventh put Tennessee ahead 8-6. The Lexington, Tennessee, native added another three-run jack in an eight-run ninth inning and now has 12 home runs on the year with 10 of those coming in conference play.
VOLS DIG THE LONG BALL: For the third time in the past six games the Vols went deep multiple times, blasting a season-high six homers on the day. Pete Derkay, Evan Russell (two), Luc Lipcius, Max Ferguson and Connor Pavolony all went yard for the Big Orange in Sunday’s win. Tennessee hit nine home runs in the series against the Aggies and has now hit 54 total this season.
ROAD VOLS: The Big Orange continued their solid play away from home this weekend, posting another road series win. The Vols have now won all four of their weekend road series and are 11-4 overall away from Knoxville.