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Dylan Dreiling Leads Tennessee Baseball Over Georgia in High-Scoring Classic

Dylan Dreiling during the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn – Like offense? Then Tennessee baseball’s Saturday win over Georgia was for you.

No. 5 Tennessee (23-5, 4-4 SEC) outlasted Georgia (22-5, 4-4 SEC), 16-11, to even the series, as the buzzsaw that is the Tennessee offense powered them to a crucial victory.

Despite giving up seven runs in the third inning, Tennessee mounted a comeback and then some, totaling six runs in the fifth and seventh innings, both of which included a grand slam.

Dylan Dreiling came through in the clutch once again, Kirby Connell set career-highs in a highly pivotal relief outing, Tony Vitello made an incredible coaching decision, and Blake Burke etched his name into Tennessee history.

Here’s everything you need to know as Tennessee won an action-packed instant classic.

Shades of Friday in the Third

After a three-spot in the first inning, Tennessee’s lead quickly evaporated in the third inning, as it was shades of Georgia’s blowout win in the series opener. The Bulldogs shelled Tennessee starting pitcher Drew Beam and chased him from the game after scoring seven runs in the frame, with five coming on two outs.

Beam issued a four-pitch walk to leadoff hitter Corey Collins before star hitter Charlie Condon smoked a two-run home run.

While Beam got three-hole hitter Slate Alford to pop up, he gave up five hits, including a three-run home run, and allowed one walk afterward. Another runner also reached base via error.

Like Friday, things spiraled out of control for Tennessee as Georgia’s bats kept rocking the Vols’ starter.

Additionally, Tennessee’s defense struggled in the third much like it did Friday. A 106 mph ground ball went under Blake Burke’s glove, Christian Moore failed to stop what became an RBI single, and Kavares Tears misjudged a ball in right field that became an RBI double.

Senior left-handed pitcher Kirby Connell relieved Beam and got a big groundout to strand the bases loaded and end the disastrous inning.

Georgia added their 8th run in the fourth inning, when Paul Toetz scored Dylan Goldstein, who reached on a leadoff hit-by-pitch, with an RBI double.

Like Friday, Tennessee faced an uphill battle. But things went a little bit differently this time around.

Dylan Dreiling Does What He Does Best

Dylan Dreiling has been one of Tennessee’s best at delivering in big moments with runners on base. 

Dreiling did so again Saturday with two huge swings: a three-run home run in the first inning and a grand slam in the fifth. 

Dreiling provided the spark in the opening frame with a three-run blast, plating Kavares Tears, who walked, and Blake Burke, who hit his SEC-leading 16th double of the season. Dreiling’s home run was vital for Tennessee to get into an early groove after an ugly loss on Friday.

The Hays, Kansas, native delivered again in a more significant spot in the fifth, crushing a grand slam to give Tennessee a two-run lead.

Burke had recorded an RBI single before Tears worked a bases-loaded walk to put Tennessee behind by two runs. Then came the biggest swing of Tennessee’s season as Dreiling sent a no-doubter to right field.

The two home runs extended Dreiling’s team-high season RBI total to 37 and gave him a co-team-leading 10 home runs on the season.

More From RTI: Tennessee Baseball vs. Georgia LIVE Update Thread Game Two

Blake Burke Hits Record-Setting Long Ball

Before Dreiling’s big swing in the fifth inning, Burke etched his name into Tennessee baseball history in the third inning.

Burke hammered a 117 mph leadoff home run 411 feet to right field to bring his career total to 40, tying Luc Lipcius’ program record.

For more on Burke’s record-setting blast, click here.

Kirby Connell Sets Career Highs in Crucial Relief Performance

Connell provided a crucial relief outing for the Tennessee pitching staff against the Bulldogs, pitching a career-high 5.0 innings while allowing seven hits and three runs.

Connell hasn’t been a bullpen arm who Tennessee has turned to for extended relief outings the past couple of seasons, but the senior delivered one when the Vols needed it most.

With Beam and every pitcher who pitched Friday getting rocked and Russell’s injury, Tennessee has little reliable bullpen arms to turn to in a big moment.

Connell has shown that he can be that guy this season, with Saturday’s performance being arguably his most impressive given the opponent. In his performance, Connell shattered his career-high pitch total, throwing 94 total pitches. His previous career-high came in 2022 against Campbell when he threw 65 pitches. 

A Tony Vitello Decision Works Wonders

Before Dreiling hit a grand slam to give Tennessee the lead, Tony Vitello pinch-hit Dalton Bargo for Ariel Antigua to lead off the inning.Bargo singled to jumpstart what became a six-run inning.

Later, the Missouri transfer hit Tennessee’s second grand slam of the evening to give the Vols a commanding lead.

Bargo was the first batter Georgia reliever Zach Smith faced, and he greeted him with a grand slam to the left-field porches. 

Vitello’s decision worked wonders. And Bargo, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury the past couple of weeks, had his biggest game to date in orange.

The Vols never relinquished the 16-10 lead Bargo’s grand slam gave them, as reliever Nate Snead gave up just one run in 1.1 innings to end the game.

Up Next

Tennessee will look to win the series on Easter Sunday at 2 p.m. ET in the rubber match Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

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