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Strong Pitching Pushes Tennessee Past Texas A&M In SEC Tournament

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

HOOVER, Ala. — Tennessee baseball extended its stay at the SEC Tournament for at least one more day, knocking off Texas A&M 7-4 on Thursday afternoon.

The Vols’ Chris Stamos-AJ Causey stack was effective again and late inning home runs by Kavares Tears and Cal Stark provided Tennessee with all the insurance they needed.

Here’s everything to know about the Vols’ win.

Gavin Grahovac Spoils An Otherwise Stellar Chris Stamos Start

Tennessee went with its series opening pitching duo against Texas A&M, using Chris Stamos as an opener into an AJ Causey outing.

With Texas A&M starting its ace, Stamos rose to the occasion with what was perhaps his best outing of the season. The left-handed pitcher recorded 10 outs in what was his longest outing of the season. He retired the side in order in the first inning with a pair of strikeouts against two of the SEC’s best hitters.

Stamos was a pitch away from getting through the third inning completely unscathed when SEC Freshman of the Year Gavin Grahovac took a 2-2 pitch deep to right field for a solo home run. Stamos retired the next batter to get out of the inning and then recorded the first out of the fourth inning before Causey replaced him to end his day.

It wasn’t a perfect outing because of the solo home run but it was still really impressive work from Stamos against one of the SEC’s best lineups.

Vols Leave Something To Be Desired With Bases Loaded Opportunities

Tennessee loaded the bases in both the third and fourth innings with chances to do major damage against the Aggies both times. Neither were horrible showings, Tennessee totaled a run in each inning, but the Vols left something to be desired both times.

In the third inning, Christian Moore and Blake Burke singled before Billy Amick worked a walk to load the bases with no one out. Dylan Dreiling did hit job, hitting a sac fly to right field that drove Moore home and moved Burke to third.

That’s when the Vols made a brutal base running mistake. Hunter Ensley hit a chopped back to the pitcher. Brock Peery looked off Burke at third before firing to first. Only Burke didn’t retreat to third base. He stayed still for a second too long in the middle of the base paths before taking off for home. The Aggies easily turned the 1-3-2 double play to get out of the inning.

While bad base running cost Tennessee in the third, good defense saved Texas A&M in the fourth. Peery walked three straight batters with one-out to load the bases. Moore hit a hard grounder to first but Ted Burton made an impressive diving stop to turn what would have been a multi-RBI hit into just a RBI groundout. Burke then worked a solid at bat before hitting a hard, short hopping liner at second baseman Travis Chestnut. He made the play to end the inning.

Those two missed opportunities kept Tennessee from opening up a healthy lead in the middle of the game. The Vols didn’t score after loading the bases with one-out in the eighth inning but by that point they had a comfortable four-run lead.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of Tennessee Baseball’s SEC Tournament Win Against Texas A&M 

AJ Causey Keeps Cruising

Stamos delivered for the first half of the Stamos-Causey stack and Causey held up his end of the bargain in the second half of the stack.

The low-slot reliever continued his recent dominance, allowing two runs on five hits in four innings pitched. Only one of the runs scored while Causey was in the game as Kirby Connell allowed the runner he inherited on first with one out to score.

Causey struck out seven Aggies, coming up just one shy of his highest total in a relief outing this season. The only damage Texas A&M did against the right-handed pitcher came on a sixth inning solo home run. After the Aggies put a runner in-scoring position on a single and an error right after the home run, Causey quickly disposed of the threat with a pop out and a strikeout.

It was another impressive outing from Causey and it kept Tennessee alive for at least one more day in Hoover.

Have Yourself A Day Kavares Tears

Tennessee right fielder Kavares Tears had a shaky day at the plate on Wednesday against Vanderbilt, striking out three times in the loss.

He couldn’t have responded in better fashion that he did against the Aggies, going three-of-five at the plate with a trio of hard hit balls.

Tears roped a line drive off the right field wall in the second inning which proved to only be a single because of how hard he hit it. The left-handed hitter pulled a 2-0 pitch into right field for a RBI double in the fifth inning.

Then Tears showed his opposite field power in the seventh inning, hitting a three-run homer that expanded Tennessee’s lead to four runs and all but put Texas A&M away.

It was an impressive four RBI performance from Tears that was propelled Tennessee’s offense and extended its run in Hoover.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee baseball survives another day in the SEC Tournament. They’ll face the loser of tonight’s Vanderbilt-Mississippi State game at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday night at the Hoover Met.

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