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Tennessee and Texas A&M speak to the media before the final showdown

Tennessee and Texas A&M speak to the media before the final showdown

OMAHA, Nebraska (WOWT) – Two Southeastern Conference programs will face off in the Men’s College World Series finals this weekend in downtown Omaha.

The two teams that were widely considered the best in the country all season, No. 1 Tennessee (58-12) and No. 3 Texas A&M (52-13), are just one step away from reaching the pinnacle of college baseball.

The national champion will be determined in a best-of-three series, played on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, and if necessary on Monday evening, at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha.

Both teams enter the College World Series championship series undefeated. Tennessee earned a thrilling 12-11 win over Florida State in the opening game last week before defeating North Carolina 6-1 and then defeating the Seminoles again 7-2 in the semifinals.

“We’re lucky,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said in a press conference on Friday. “Obviously, you have to take breaks along the way. As the old cliche goes, you have to take your breaks. So whatever combination it was, we’ll take it. I know one ingredient, combination, whatever you want to call it, was our phenomenal fan base. So I’m excited to see those guys here.”

OMAHA, NE – June 16, 2024 – Outfielder/Infielder Kavares Tears #21, Outfielder Dylan Dreiling …
OMAHA, NE – June 16, 2024 – Outfielder/Infielder Kavares Tears #21, Outfielder Dylan Dreiling #8 and Infielder Blake Burke #25 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the 2024 Baseball College World Series game between the UNC Tar Heels and the Tennessee Volunteers at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, NE.(Photo by Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics)

Tennessee’s offense was the talk of the town during their run through Omaha, having scored a whopping 25 runs in three games. The Vols have five players on their roster who have hit at least 20 home runs this season.

“I know we talk about it a lot in the fall. Coach V mentioned that there was one player who thought his goal for the whole season was to be focused on every single pitch,” said Kavares Tears, who had one of Tennessee’s best at-bats this postseason. “I think that’s something I’ve tried to do personally, and I’ve definitely talked about it with some of our other guys out there. And I think as a group we’re doing that pretty well.”

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Charles Schwab Field

While Tennessee has been able to rely largely on its lineup to this point, Texas A&M has shown its ability, allowing just three total runs in this year’s CWS. The Aggies beat Florida 3-2 in the first game, followed by a 5-1 win over Kentucky and another win over Florida in the semifinals – this time a 6-0 shutout.

During Friday’s media presence, the Aggies said there is one man who has been the biggest catalyst for their success on the mound this year: pitching coach Max Weiner.

“The first thing (Weiner) obviously talks about is zone dominance, because we have to be in the zone first to have a chance,” Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager said. “I think it’s because it’s been so simple and consistent all year long. We know what our pitches are supposed to do and what they’re supposed to look like. And that’s what we ask them to do every week. Once we get that down, it’s right back to being in the zone and just competing.”

Texas A&M reliever Gavin Grahovac (9) runs to first base during an NCAA baseball game against ...
Texas A&M all-arounder Gavin Grahovac (9) runs to first base during an NCAA baseball game against Florida, Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)(Gary McCullough | AP)

But despite all the excitement and recognition that the CWS 2024 has generated so far, the record is now clean.

Both teams enter Saturday night tied 0-0 and will need to win two of their next three games to take home the sport’s most coveted prize: the national championship trophy.

“I’m really excited for our players,” Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle said in Friday’s press conference. “They’ve earned this opportunity. As you know, we’ve been through a lot throughout the year, as have all the teams that have made it this far. (We’re) ready to play. Two days off is great, but we’re ready to get back on the field. I’m excited to get back to practice today.”

The Vols and Aggies met only once during the regular season, a game in which Tennessee won 7-4.