2021 College World Series: Texas ends Vols' storied season
Barry Allen and Chris Lee • 6/22/2021 in Baseball
Texas ended Tennessee's season, but it was one that brought the Vols back to national relevancy.
Jordan Beck photo courtesy of the NCAA.
Tennessee’s magical season ended with an 8-4 loss to Texas in an elimination game at the College World Series in Tuesday. The Vols won’t let the two-and-out in Omaha dampen their spirits in what was one of the greatest seasons in program history.
Tennessee won 50 games this season, the most of any SEC team. The Vols won the SEC Eastern Division for the first time since 1997 and hosted their first ever Super Regional in Knoxville.
There were plenty of honors to go around in Knoxville, starting with coach Tony Vitello, whom we named our Southeastern 14 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year.
Several players also earned All-SEC honors, including shortstop Liam Spence and third baseman Jake Rucker. Second baseman Max Ferguson and pitcher Sean Hunley made our third team, while Blade Tidwell earned fourth-team honors.
But it wasn't just the wins and the honors, it was the way the Vols played. Dreams of getting to Omaha were validated along the way with a gritty team that battled through a brutal regional that included a tournament-opening win over under-seeded Wright State in a game that won't be forgotten any time soon.
It was a bunch that captured the attention of the entire city the last two months, as the Vols had full stands much of the season and tickets even commanded insane prices on the secondary market.
As for Monday afternoon, the Volunteers battled Texas on even terms for three innings on Tuesday before the Longhorns bullpen and tradition took over. Texas reliever Tanner Witt (5-0) blanked the Vols over the final 5 2/3 innings for the win. He allowed three hits, struck out two and did not walk a batter.
The Longhorns improved to 35-0 this season when scoring five or more runs. Texas is now 78-2 in its 80 all-time CWS games when leading after eight innings.
Both teams went to bullpen early. Tennessee replaced starter Blade Tidwell after three innings. He allowed four runs in his three-inning stint.
Sean Hunley took over in the fourth when Texas scored three runs to take control of the game. Hunley (7-5) was charged with the loss.
The fourth inning also brought the ire from the Tennessee coaches showing their displeasure of several close calls. UT assistant coach Ross Krivet by third base umpire Mike Moore.
Texas catcher Silas Ardoin and third baseman Cam Williams both delivered two-out hits in the inning to break the 4-4 tie.
Williams and Ardoin were also part of a third-to-home-first double play with bases loaded in the third inning to thwart at Tennessee rally.
The Longhorns turned two double plays and has more double plays (51) than errors (47) this season.
Texas scored six of its eight runs with two outs. The Longhorns also drew six walks and four came around to score.
The bottom of the Tennessee order - Jordan Beck, Pete Derkay and Connor Pavolony - combined five hits and three RBIs. Liam Spence had two hits and one RBI.
Texas will face the loser of the Virginia-Mississippi State game on Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET).