Opportunities abound for Diamond Vols down the home stretch
With three series remaining until tournament play, the Tennessee baseball team holds a 31-14 record including a 9-12 record in SEC play.
The season has been an exciting one under second-year head coach Tony Vitello, as the young Midwesterner has rejuvenated a struggling program that has spent the last decade as a SEC bottom feeder.
The Vols are safe to return to their first SEC Tournament since 2016, but after getting swept at Arkansas last weekend, a little bit of work remains for this squad to end one of the nation’s longest NCAA Tournament droughts. Luckily for the Big Orange, plenty of opportunities to solidify their tournament chances remain in the final three conference series.
The final three series provide perhaps the most evenly matched series of the season for the Vols.
Missouri has overachieved this season and sits 1.5 games ahead of Tennessee in the SEC east. Fans of good pitching won’t want to miss this series between two of this league’s best staffs.
Every expected starting pitcher has an ERA below 4.00 with each team giving the ball to at least a starter with an ERA under 3.00
It’s been a disappointing season for Florida as the Gators currently sit on the wrong side of the bubble, but the Vols have only won one of their last five series in Gainesville. The two teams are currently tied for fourth place in the eastern division, so it seems likely that the winner of the series will remain ahead of the other down the stretch and will be the higher seed in Hoover at the SEC Tournament.
This year’s Florida squad is uncharacteristic of most Kevin O’Sullivan coached teams as the Gators have the worst ERA in the conference. The series represents a big opportunity for Tennessee’s bats to gain some momentum going into the postseason.
The regular season ends with Tennessee hosting Ole Miss. While the Rebels sit at 13-8 in conference play, they’ve struggled at times this year dropping midweek games and stumbling to a 7-9 road record, making them the only conference team with a winning record in league play, but losing record on the road.
Three series remain for Tennessee in the regular season and all three represent a chance for the Vols to bolster their already solid postseason chances. Tennessee’s RPI is the fourth best in the conference thanks to a combined seventeen tier one and tier two wins and a strong non-conference performance, but there is work that remains to be done.
Vitello won’t want any extra work to be done when the Vols travel to the Hoover and turning in a winning record in their last nine SEC games while winning their final two midweek games would lift that weight off their shoulders.
Three evenly matched series will give everyone a good indication of how serious of a run Tennessee can make in its ahead of schedule rebuild. For college baseball fans, it doesn’t get much more enjoyable than that.