BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – No. 5 Tennessee raced out to an early lead, scoring runs in the first three innings, and cruised to a 6-1 win over Texas A&M in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader at Blue Bell Park.
Making the start in his home state, Chad Dallas gave UT another great performance on the mound, tossing seven strong innings while holding the Aggies to just one run on five hits. The junior right hander finished with five strikeouts and did not allow a walk on the day while earning the win to improve his record to 6-1 on the year.
Jake Rucker and Evan Russell both had multiple hits and an RBI while the Big Orange homered twice with Rucker and Connor Pavolony both hitting solo shots. Rucker went 3-for-4 with a homer, two doubles, two runs scored to lead the charge.
The Vols jumped out to a quick lead thanks to solo home run from Rucker in the top of the first inning. It was his sixth long ball of the season and gave the Big Orange an early 1-0 advantage.
Tennessee (31-8 // 11-5 SEC) added to its lead with a three-spot in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead. Evan Russell singled to lead off the inning and ended up scoring a throwing error by Aggies pitcher Dustin Saenz to make it 2-0. Max Ferguson doubled the lead with a clutch two-run single with the bases loaded and two outs later in the inning.
UT scored for the third straight inning to start the game thanks to a pair of doubles by Rucker and Russell in the top of the third. Rucker found the gap in left center to lead off the inning and scored on Russell’s liner down the left-field line to make it 5-0.
The Aggies (22-18 // 4-12 SEC) broke up the shutout with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Hunter Coleman scored from second on a single to right field by Kalae Harrison. Dallas was able to limit the damage to just that one run by picking off Harrison at first base then getting Ray Alejo to fly out to end the inning.
Pavolony gave the Vols their five-run lead right back with a solo blast to left field to lead off the sixth inning. The junior backstop has now homered in each of UT’s last three weekend series.
Senior right hander Sean Hunley did not allow a hit and had a pair of strikeouts over the final two innings to finish off the win.
Saenz was the losing pitcher for Texas A&M, falling to 5-5 on the year after allowing six runs (three earned) on eight hits in six innings.
PAV IS BACK: After having to leave last Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt after getting hit by a pitch in the hand, Connor Pavolony returned to the lineup on Saturday and looked to be just fine. The Georgia native narrowly missed hitting a home run to left center in the third inning before hammering his third home run of the season with a solo rocket in the sixth.
CHEESE SHOWS OUT IN HOME STATE: Chad Dallas gave the Vols another solid outing on Saturday, striking out five and allowing just one run on five hits in front of a large contingent of family and friends. Dallas hails from Orange, Texas, located about three hours southeast of Bryan-College Station.