How Tennessee baseball got back on track against Texas A&M before LSU series

Tennessee baseball got knocked down against Missouri in a sweep to open SEC play.

The Vols (19-6, 3-3 SEC) got back up against Texas A&M, sweeping the Aggies (15-9, 1-5) in an essential series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. UT scored 27 runs in three games, smashing A&M 10-4 in the Friday opener before winning 8-7 on Saturday and 9-6 on Sunday to seal the sweep.

"It’s important to receive blows the right way and respond the right way and it was a good response week," Vols coach Tony Vitello said.

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Tennessee needed the weekend — and the wins

Tennessee had a lousy three days in Columbia, Missouri, to start conference play. Vitello rolled out a lineup Tuesday in UT's midweek win against Western Carolina that didn't feature many regulars.


The message was apparently received and the Vols responded with much-needed wins and good feelings.

"You come home from a bad road trip and it’s time to get to work and show that you have some grit to you and to get better in some areas," Vitello said. "We did do that so that’s what stuck out to me with what we have this weekend.”

The wins were paramount in the moment, but they also matter moving forward. Tennessee has a frontloaded SEC slate that features a trip to LSU, a home series against Florida, a trip to Arkansas and a home series against Vanderbilt. Each upcoming opponent has an argument as a top-five team. LSU was the preseason No. 1 and Florida has looked like the SEC's best team, at times.

Jared Dickey gives Tennessee the most at catcher

Jared Dickey was the guy behind the plate entering the fall, an outfielder-turned-catcher following in Evan Russell's footsteps. The move might be back for good after Dickey started at catcher Friday and Sunday.

Dickey, who is hitting .322, has mostly started in the outfield this season. He suffered a hand injury in the fall that limited him behind the plate. He is the best offensive option at catcher, but playing Dickey at catcher also frees an outfield spot or the designated hitter spot so Tennessee can roll out a more threatening offensive lineup.

Hunter Ensley has emerged as an outfield staple with Dickey behind the plate, which gives UT another right-handed bat in a left-handed dominant lineup.

Zane Denton led the offensive surge

Zane Denton had his best series and best game for the Vols. The Alabama transfer went 3-for-3 with two home runs and five RBIs Sunday. The third baseman reached base nine times with four hits and five walks, including three walks Friday. He hit in the bottom third in the final two games after hitting cleanup Friday.

The offense rebounded well after a terrible weekend at Missouri in which UT scored six runs, including two one-run outings.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: How Tennessee baseball got back on track against Texas A&M pre-LSU