OMAHA, Neb. – No. 3 Tennessee generated early offense, but could not keep pace with No. 2 Texas Tuesday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park, falling 8-4 in a season-ending loss to the Longhorns.
The Vols finish their record-setting season with a 50-18 overall record, an SEC Eastern Division title and the fifth trip to the College World Series in program history.
Liam Spence, Jordan Beck and Pete Derkay recorded two hits each on the day for Tennessee, while Jake Rucker, Drew Gilbert and Connor Pavolony had one hit apiece.
Blade Tidwell started on the mound for Tennessee, giving up two hits and striking out three in three innings of action, but allowed four runs (three earned). Sean Hunley was stuck with the loss after surrendering three Texas runs in a decisive fourth inning.
After being shutout in its opener in Omaha on Sunday, Tennessee wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, taking an early lead Tuesday. A leadoff single from Gilbert got the Vols’ two-run second inning started before a double from Beck and an RBI groundout from Derkay drove in runs to give the Vols a 2-0 lead.
After Texas (48-16) responded in the bottom of the inning with a three-run home run from Eric Kennedy and added another run in the third to take a 4-2 lead, Tennessee evened the score with a pair of RBI singles from Pavolony and Spence in the top of the fourth.
Unfortunately, the Big Orange were only able to muster three hits for the remainder of the game against Texas reliever Tanner Witt, who three 5.2 scoreless innings to improve to 5-0 on the year.
The Longhorns regained their lead in the fourth, countering with a three-run inning to take a 7-4 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
HISTORIC SEASON: Tennessee wraps up a 2021 season that is statistically one of the best in program history:
• For just the third time in program history, the Vols reached 50 wins (1994, 1995).
• For the first time since 1995, Tennessee won the SEC Eastern Division championship.
• The Vols made it to the College World Series for the fifth time in program history (1951, 1995, 2001, 2005).
• Tennessee’s 20 SEC wins were its most since 1995.
• The Vols’ 16 road wins marked their most in program history.
UT won five SEC road series for the first time ever.
• Tennessee was ranked for the entire season and reached as high as No. 2 in the polls on multiple occasions—the program’s highest ever ranking.
• The Vols hit 98 home runs, good for second in program history (107 in 1998).
• Tennessee had six extra-inning victories this season—the most in program history.
The Vols also had seven walk-off wins.
DERKAY GOES OUT A RECORD HOLDER: Playing his 229th and final game in a Tennessee uniform, Pete Derkay had multiple hits for the second straight game in Omaha. Derkay concludes his career in orange and white as the program’s all-time leader in games played.
The Georgia native ends his UT career with 184 career hits, 102 RBIs and a .277 career batting average. He also finishes second in program history in career walks with 132. Derkay batted .417 during the duration of Tennessee’s run in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, leading the team with 10 hits, including a team-high four at the College World Series.