Tennessee secured its inaugural national baseball championship with a narrow 6-5 victory over Texas A&M.

Tony Vitello celebrated Tennessee’s historic victory by joining the team’s ecstatic fans in the stands for a group hug, while players ran around the warning track exchanging high-fives. Kavares Tears, in a reflective moment, squatted in right field with a towel over his eyes.

Finally, Tennessee claimed its inaugural national championship in baseball.

Christian Moore set the tone with a leadoff home run, Dylan Dreiling added his third homer in as many games, and despite late-game tension, Tennessee clinched a 6-5 win over Texas A&M in Game 3 of the College World Series finals on Monday night.

The Volunteers rebounded from an initial loss in Game 1 to win two consecutive games, marking the first time since Miami in 1999 that a No. 1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament secured the title.

“Kids nowadays are resilient. They execute what’s asked of them,” said Vitello, the team’s coach for seven years. “Our fans played a crucial role in that tough inning. It was a collective effort on the mound. In the SEC, you’re expected to excel individually, but being a good teammate is paramount, and that’s what these players demonstrated.”

Tennessee (60-13) held Texas A&M, averaging 8.5 runs per game, to just six runs over the final 20 innings of the finals, anchored by Zander Sechrist and Nate Snead’s pivotal contributions before Texas A&M rallied late to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth.

Aaron Combs struck out Hayden Schott and Ted Burton to seal the victory, triggering jubilation among the Tennessee contingent around the pitcher’s mound.

Tennessee had previously come close to clinching the title, reaching the CWS in 2021 and going winless, followed by a loss in a three-game super regional as the No. 1 seed the following year. Returning to Omaha this year, they reached the finals for the first time since 1951, when they lost to Oklahoma in the championship game.

Moments after the final out, Vitello, 45, shared an emotional embrace with his father, Greg, a respected high school baseball and soccer coach in St. Louis.

“I felt like I was the parent and he was the child because he couldn’t stop crying,” Vitello recounted. “I had to calm him down.”

The Volunteers became the eighth Southeastern Conference school to claim a national baseball title, contributing to the SEC’s streak of five consecutive wins by different schools and 10 out of the last 15 championships.

Texas A&M posed threats in the sixth and seventh innings, but Snead successfully navigated both crises.

Dreiling, named the CWS Most Outstanding Player, notched his 23rd home run of the season, while Hunter Ensley scored on Tears’ double, extending the lead to 6-1 in the eighth inning. Dreiling’s achievement of homering in all three games of the CWS finals since the best-of-three format began in 2003 is a unique accomplishment.

“I was in the moment and focused,” Dreiling reflected. “After swinging too hard on the first pitch, I adjusted to hit a changeup over the middle.”

Tennessee’s two homers on Monday tied the 1998 LSU team for the most in an NCAA Tournament (37) and brought their season total to 184, just four shy of LSU’s NCAA record of 188 set in 1997.

Texas A&M heightened tension in the eighth inning, scoring twice and threatening further with two runners on base and one out. Kirby Connell’s spirited performance, including two strikeouts and a celebratory skip over the third-base line, subdued their rally.

In the ninth, Texas A&M managed two more runs, with the second scoring on a wild pitch, narrowing the gap to one run before Combs secured the final outs.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” lamented Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle. “When you make it this far, you want to win your last game.”

Among the Tennessee supporters at the game in vibrant orange were notable figures like Peyton Manning, Josh Heupel, Rick Barnes, and Morgan Wallen. The game began under a sweltering 98-degree temperature.

Moore’s early home run provided relief from the heat for Tennessee fans, at least momentarily, as he smashed Justin Lamkin’s fourth pitch—a high fastball—off the left-field bullpen wall for his team-leading 34th homer of the season.

Despite late-season injuries, including one to star outfielder Braden Montgomery, Texas A&M reached their first-ever CWS finals. Their 53 wins marked their highest tally since 1993.

“Texas A&M belongs in the SEC, competing for regional hosting rights,” Schlossnagle asserted. “Making it to Omaha isn’t a given; it’s earned through strong performances in the NCAA Tournament.”