KNOXVILLE, Tennessee -- The No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies claimed their third SEC road series win of the season Saturday night, posting a 6-1 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Aggies will go for the series sweep on Sunday afternoon with a 1 pm Central finale.
Tennessee (18-23, 7-16 SEC) drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning. Nick Senzel drew a five-pitch walk to start the frame and Jared Pruett was hit by a pitch. Aggie starter Ryan Hendrix fanned Christin Stewart on three pitches and induced a fielder's choice grounder by Andrew Lee, retiring Pruett at second to put runners at the corners with two outs. AJ Simcox worked the count to 2-2 before punching a single down the leftfield line, plating Senzel for the 1-0 lead. Simcox was retired at second trying to stretch his hit into a double, ending the frame.
After going hitless in the first three innings, Texas A&M (40-7, 15-7 SEC) broke the scoring seal in the fourth. Blake Allemand bounced a single up the middle to start the frame and Mitchell Nau drew a six-pitch walk. Logan Taylor lined out to leftfield for the second out, but Nick Banks did damage, hitting a wall-banger to leftfield for an RBI double, knotting the game at 1-1 with Allemand's run.
The Aggies grabbed the lead in the top of the fifth. JB Moss worked a six-pitch walk to start the frame. After Logan Nottebrok was caught looking at strike three for the first out of the inning, Michael Barash singled through the left side of the infield and Allemand was hit by a pitch to fill the bags with Ags. Birk struck out looking for the second out of the inning, bringing Nau to the plate. Nau fell behind in the count 0-2, stayed alive by fouling off two pitches and then launched a gapper to right-center, clearing the bases with a three-run double, staking A&M to a 4-1 advantage.
Hendrix worked out of a jam in the home half of the fifth. Benito Santiago reached on a catcher's interference that the home plate umpire missed by the third base umpire saw 110 feet away and Parker Wormsley reached on an error by Aggie third baseman Nottebrok. After the runners both moved up a base with a passed ball, Senzel lined to second for the first out of the inning. Pruett fouled off five two-strike pitches before getting plunked to load the bases. Hendrix got Stewart to fly out to shallow leftfield for the second inning and caught Lee swinging at three straight pitches to end the frame with three Volunteers on base.
The Maroon and White tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth. Banks was issued a base on balls with four pitches and scored when Hunter Melton rattled a ball in the corner down the rightfield line for his second career triple. After JB Moss popped out to the first baseman for the first out of the inning, pinch-hitter Ronnie Gideon plated Melton with a sacrifice fly in foul territory down the rightfield line, inflating the A&M cushion to 6-1.
Hendrix (4-1) picked up his first career win as a starting pitcher. He yielded one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five in 6.0 innings. Matt Kent picked up his first career save, working 3.0 blank innings with one hit while striking out six of the 11 batters he faced. All six of Kent's Ks were of the backward variety as he caught two Tennessee batters looking in each of the three frames.
Hunter Martin (1-2) was saddled with the loss, starting on short notice. Named the starting pitcher on Friday night, Martin yielded four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out six in 4.2 innings.
Texas A&M registered six hits, six walks and one hit batsman. Allemand led the Aggies at the plate, going 2-for-2 with one walk, one hit-by-pitch, one sacrifice bunt, one stolen base and two runs.
Tennessee got runners on base in all nine innings. The Volunteers managed just five hits, but got two walks, three hit batsman and four runners reached on Aggie errors. One day after leaving 13 men on base, Tennessee stranded nine runners.
On Sunday, the Aggies will look to earn the 400th career win for head coach Rob Childress.