KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee knocked off No. 14 Texas A&M, 6-4, in Sunday's series finale at Lindsey Nelson Stadium to secure the first series win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 7 Florida in Gainesville last April.
Jay Charleston and Justin Ammons both had three hits and drove in a run while seniors Brodie Leftridge and Benito Santiago both hit solo home runs to lead the Volunteers to their seventh SEC victory this season. With the win, UT has already matched last year's conference win total with 12 league games still left to play.
The trio of Will Neely, Garrett Crochet and Chase Wallace got it done on the mound for the Vols, holding the Aggies' high-powered lineup in check for most of the game. Crochet earned his third win of the year after a dominant relief performance. The freshman left hander allowed just one hit and struck out four over 2.2 scoreless innings before giving way to Wallace, who recorded the final two outs to pick up his third save of the season.
For the second straight game Texas A&M jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After the first two batters of the game were retired, the Aggies put together a two-out rally with three consecutive hits to go ahead 2-0.
The Vols rallied to take the lead with a three-run third inning. Leftridge led off the frame with his second home run of the series to make it 2-1 before UT tied the game on a passed ball and took the lead with a two-out RBI single to right field by Andre Lipcius.
The Big Orange added to their lead with another run in the bottom of the fourth when Charleston doubled to left field with two outs to score Leftridge and give the Orange and White a 4-2 advantage.
The Aggies pulled even in the sixth on a two-run home run by Chris Andritsos. The sophomore first baseman hammered a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left field to tie the game at four all. Crochet entered the game later in the inning with runners on second and third with two outs and got Zach DeLoach to strikeout swinging to keep the game tied at four.
Tennessee responded in the bottom of the sixth, retaking the lead on an RBI single to center field by Ammons that put the Vols up 5-4. One inning later Santiago provided the Vols with some insurance by belting a solo homer to straightaway center field to make it 6-4. It was Santiago's team-leading sixth home run of the season.
Crochet retired the leadoff batter in the ninth before handing the ball over to Wallace, who walked Michael Helman but then got Logan Foster to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game and secure the second SEC series win for UT this season.
Vols Have Already Matched Last Year's SEC Win Total
Despite still having 12 conference games to play, Tennessee has already matched its SEC win total of seven from last season. The Vols have won two series in league play this season after today's win over Texas A&M, with the other coming via a sweep against Alabama back in late March.
Seniors Come Through with Big Home Runs
UT's only two seniors came through in a big way on Sunday afternoon with a pair of solo home runs to help lead the Vols to victory. Brodie Leftridge hit his second of the series to lead off the third inning and get the Vols on the board. Benito Santiago hit his team-leading sixth long ball of the year in the bottom of the seventh to provide Tennessee with a big insurance run. After hitting two homers today, the Vols now have six multi-home run games this season.
The Vols wrap up a four-game homestand against No. 21 Tennessee Tech on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. before hitting the road for a weekend series at No. 12 Georgia. Fans can watch Tuesday's game on SEC Network+ (WatchESPN) and listen live on Sports Radio WNML (FM 99.1 / AM 990).