Randy Smith: Vitello's Vols On A Mission?

  • Wednesday, June 12, 2024
  • Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
I certainly don't want to jinx the top-ranked Tennessee baseball team as they head to Omaha for the College World Series this week. After all, I've written columns about the men's basketball team under Rick Barnes getting the monkey off his back when it comes to winning that elusive national title. And so far that hasn't happened. Coach Tony Vitello is wrapping up his seventh season in Knoxville as the head coach of the Volunteers and in those seven seasons he's taken his Vols to the College World Series three times in the last four years.
The one year they didn't make it to Omaha, they won a school record 57 games but were upset by Notre Dame in the Super Regionals.

Following Tennessee's Super Regional win in game three this past weekend over Evansville, Coach V went on a rant after members of the Knoxville media kept bringing up the loss to Notre Dame just two years before. That happened when the Vols blew a 4-0 lead in game two and eventually lost to the Aces 10-8 forcing a game three in the series. You could tell it was a different Tennessee team when they took the field for game three. The Big Orange blasted six home runs in a 12-1 win sending them to win number 55 on the year and another trip to Omaha. And this time the Vols are the top seed for the Series and will face 8th seed Florida State Friday at 7 p.m.

Now....the odds are against Tennessee winning it all because the top seed hasn't won the College World Series since Miami won it in 1999. That's been 25 years in case you're wondering and even though those odds are stacked against them, the Vols are still the betting favorites to leave Omaha with the championship trophy. Baseball is perhaps the most unpredictable sport of all. That's why it's been so long since a top seed won it all. When you get eight teams that are all playing well together for a championship series anything can happen.

There is another oddity about this year's CWS. Of the eight teams in it, four are from the SEC and four from the ACC. That tells you the best college baseball is in the south, as Florida, Kentucky and Texas A&M join the Vols from the SEC while Florida State, Virginia, N.C. State and North Carolina represent the ACC. It's a good field with all eight teams being good enough to win it. But...are the top-seeded Volunteers really the best team in the field? We'll find out on either June 23 or 24, when the final game is played. Until then, there is a lot of baseball to be played and don't bet against Coach V's Volunteers. This could be their year!

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com
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