Tennessee baseball: The national championship is clad in Big Orange

Jun 24, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; The Tennessee Volunteers dogpile after defeating the Texas A&M Aggies at Charles Schwab Field Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; The Tennessee Volunteers dogpile after defeating the Texas A&M Aggies at Charles Schwab Field Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports / Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

As the ball popped off Kavares Tears’ bat, Hunter Ensley was on a mission and a race from first base to home. Texas A&M’s Jace LaViollette fired the ball in from center field, Ali Camarillo relayed the ball to home, and Ensley slid around the A&M catcher, barely avoiding the glove and scoring what would be the game-winning run.

Tennessee baseball had a five-run lead, all the momentum, and could taste its first national championship in program history. Ensley’s run was the deciding factor in the Vols’ one-run win after A&M’s late-game comeback.

127 years after the University of Tennessee started its baseball program, the college baseball national championship trophy is clad in Big Orange for the first time in program history.

The Vols took down the Aggies 6-5 in Game 3 of the College World Series Finals, bringing the national championship trophy to Knoxville.

Tennessee also killed the No. 1 seed curse in the NCAA Tournament and College World Series. Tennessee’s title marks the first time the No. 1 overall seed has won the national championship since Miami in 1999.

Tennessee has traveled to Omaha seven times since 1897 when the program was founded. Tennessee’s first CWS appearance was in 1951, which was also the last time the Vols appeared in the CWS Finals.

The Vols cemented themselves as one of the best teams and most powerful hitting teams in college baseball history. The BaseVols weren’t able to tie or break LSU’s 1997 home run record but finished the year with the second-most home runs of all time with 184 total bombs.

Zander Sechrist was tasked with starting the most important game in program history. He was up for the challenge, pitching 5.1 innings, allowing one run, and recording seven strikeouts.

Tony Vitello relied on his best pitchers to get him through the rest of the game. Nate Snead came in relief and pitched 1.2 innings before Dylan Loy and Kirby Connell came in to clean up the eighth inning.

Closer Aaron Combs came in the ninth to finish things off and got the job done, but not without some stress for everyone in the stadium and across Vol Nation. He gave up two runs but struck out three batters throughout the ninth to end the game and secure Tennessee’s first national title.

After a superhuman performance throughout the championship series, Dylan Dreiling was named the Most Outstanding Player. He hit a home run in every game throughout the CWS Finals, including a huge two-run home run in the seventh inning.

Tennessee baseball gets a lot of flack for being a proud, confident team led by one of the best head coaches in the country, but none of that mattered when it came down to Tennessee being the best team in the country.

There were some big names in the crowd watching the Vols. Peyton Manning and Morgan Wallen were sitting next to Josh Heupel and Rick Barnes in the stands. Manning was emphatic that this is not Tennessee’s last national title.

The night ended with Tennessee earning its 60th win of the season, the first national championship in program history, and the best coach in the country celebrating with the best fans in the country. Here is the call from John Wilkerson as Tennessee records the final out of the game.