baseball Edit

The Baseball 3-2-1

HOOVER, Ala. — No. 1 Tennessee won the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover over the weekend for the first time in 27 years. We look back at the Vols' success in Hoover and look ahead to the NCAA Tournament in this week's baseball 3-2-1.

THREE OBSERVATIONS

Tennessee makes history

Aside from the weather and late nights, Tennessee couldn’t haven’t drawn up a better week in Hoover.

The Vols defeated Vanderbilt 10-1 on Thursday night, LSU 5-2 on Friday, Kentucky 12-2 on Saturday and Florida 8-5 on Sunday to win their first SEC Baseball Tournament since the tournament expanded in 1996 following division tournaments.

Tennessee outscored its opponents 35-10 over the course of the four games and led for 29 of the 36 innings it played baseball in Hoover.

The Vols became the fourth SEC baseball team to outright win both the SEC regular-season title and the SEC Tournament in the same year since the league adopted the “Omaha” style of bracket in 1998.

Tennessee is the first school to win both the SEC Baseball and SEC Basketball tournament in the same year since the SEC implemented the basketball tournament once again in 1979.

Complimentary baseball

Tony Vitello’s Vols were able to dominate in Hoover because they played complimentary baseball throughout the week.

They didn’t play perfect baseball at all times, but no college baseball team is going to do so for four straight days. What the Vols did do, however, is pick up one another.

When the pitchers needed run support, the offense provided it. When the hitters needed a couple innings of grace, the pitchers provided them with time to find their rhythm at the plate.

It wasn’t just the offense and pitching. The Vols cut down on base running mistakes that have plagued them at times this season and they played good defense. Evan Russell even threw out multiple baserunners.

At the plate, Tennessee hit .275 for the week, four home runs and tallied 32 RBIs. It hit 11 doubles, three triples and drew 21 walks as it compiled an on-base percentage of .386%.

On the mound, Frank Anderson’s pitching staff compiled an ERA of 2.00 over the course of 36.0 innings of work. The group allowed just eight earned runs, 13 walks and struck out 37. Opponents only hit .215 off of Tennessee.

NCAA Tournament Draw announced

Tennessee was announced as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament on Monday afternoon for the first time in program history.

The Vols, who will remain in Knoxville until Omaha if they handle business, will open the Knoxville Regional on Friday night against 4-seed Alabama State at 6 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. Win or lose, UT will play 2-seed Georgia Tech or 3-seed Campbell on Saturday.

The winner of the Knoxville Regional will face the winner of the Statesboro Regional. Georgia Southern, the No. 16 national seed, is hosting Notre Dame, Texas Tech and UNC Greensboro.

It’s the seventh NCAA Regional in program history for Tennessee and its second straight. The Vols will be making their 12th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee went 34-3 this season at Lindsey Nelson Stadium and is 17-7 all-time when hosting regionals.

TWO QUESTIONS

Who starts game one on Friday?

Tennessee is in a position to where it can be strategic with who it throws in its first game of the Knoxville Regional.

With all due respect to Alabama State, if the Vols were opening against better competition, they would likely deploy Blade Tidwell or Chase Dollander. But they’re in a position to where they can save Tidwell and Dollander for later in the weekend.

Drew Beam and Chase Burns seem like the most likely candidates to start against Alabama State if the Vols do indeed try to save Tidwell and Dollander. Both of the freshman are more than capable of leading Tennessee to a win in game one, especially with how dominant Burns was in his last outing against Kentucky.

Does Jared Dickey see more action?

Tennessee is getting healthier entering the NCAA Tournament, as if it needed any more help.

Vols utility man Jared Dickey made a pinch-hit appearance in the SEC Tournament against Kentucky and slapped a single to left field. It was the redshirt-freshman’s first appearance since April 23 at Florida.

Dickey has been dealing with a bone bruise throughout the second half of the season and is back to being able to swing the bat. He’s not in a place to where he can run around in the field, however. So what does that mean for Dickey’s availability this weekend?

Dickey will certainly be available to pinch-hit, but he could also be used as the designated hitter. That is certainly a possibility throughout the Knoxville Regional although it would make for a tough decision for Tony Vitello with freshman Blake Burke swinging a hot bat.

ONE PREDICTION

Tennessee wins the Knoxville Regional

Georgia Tech, Campbell and Alabama State simply aren’t as good as Tennessee.

That doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy weekend for the Vols. Each of the three teams, particularly Georgia Tech and Campbell, will present challenges. Campbell is one of the best non-power five teams in the country, while Tech has a powerful offense, respectively.

On the flip side, the Fighting Camels haven’t faced competition consistently that is the caliber of a Tennessee. And although Tech can swing it, the Yellow Jackets struggle on the mound.

Tennessee has more talent and depth which ever matchup you look at. Not to mention that Lindsey Nelson is going to be a hornet’s nest to play in. There’s just no way Tennessee loses two games in Knoxville this weekend.