June 18, 2024

Notebook: Vols sweep Mizzou, continue magical season

Tennessee set the record for most consecutive wins to start SEC play this weekend. That is just one of many things the Vols have accomplished so far in 2022.

The Vols continued their impressive 2022 campaign this weekend. Their 1.89 team ERA and 79 homers both lead the nation. Photo courtesy @vol_baseball twitter

The Vols’ baseball team has done stunning things all of 2022. That continued on Sunday as No. 1 Tennessee (31-1, 12-0 SEC) completed a sweep of Missouri (18-11, 3-9 SEC) with a 4-3 win at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Drew Beam (7-0, 1.14 ERA) continued his impressive work on Sundays this season. He threw 6.1 innings and allowed two earned runs to lead Tennessee to the win.

Unprecedented wins

With the win on Sunday, Tennessee improved its SEC record to 12-0. It is the first time in SEC history a team started with twelve consecutive conference victories. The previous record was held by Florida, who started 10-0 in 1994.

The sweep was the Vols’ seventh sweep already in 2022, tying a program record. Sunday also marked their 23rd win in a row, dating back to March 4.

“You just look at our group as a whole and you appreciate what they do,” coach Tony Vitello said.

While the team has its eyes set on bigger goals, it is impossible to sneeze at what Tennessee has done so far this season. The Vols lead college baseball in numerous offensive and defensive statistics.

It is even more impressive considering where this program was just recently years ago. In 2017, the year before Vitello took over as head coach, Tennessee finished with a 7-21 record in SEC play.

“It’s crazy,” super senior closer Redmond Walsh, who was a freshman in 2017, said. “It’s unbelievable how this program has turned around, and how the expectation of winning is what it is (now). We used to be able to celebrate winning one game, and now taking three is the standard.”

Getting outs from top to bottom

In the Vols’ first three SEC series, the starting pitching made the relief pitchers’ jobs pretty easy. Chase Burns, Chase Dollander and Drew Beam have all been stellar in their respective starting roles. However, the bullpen had to pick up some more slack this weekend against Missouri.

On Friday, Burns struggled to find the strike zone and was chased from the game in the third inning. The bullpen combined for over six innings pitched with just one run allowed.

“It just shows that our pitching staff is here and ready to compete all game and every game we play,” reliever Will Mabrey said.

Walsh got a four-out save on Sunday to preserve the win for Tennessee. It was his 21st career save, putting him two away from tying Todd Helton for the program record.

“At the end of the day, if we get a dub up there and we get to Omaha like we think we can, then that’s the main goal,” Walsh said.

The offense…still going deep

The Vols’ offense put eight balls over the fence against Missouri this weekend. That put their team total at 79 home runs through 32 games.

Luc Lipcius had two on Sunday to lead the offense. On Saturday, the lineup went deep in back-to-back-to-back at bats in the third inning before Jordan Beck hit a grand slam the inning after.

“It’s electric,” Lipcius said about the team right now. “It’s a really fun team to be around, we don’t take anything lightly. We always want to come in and beat whoever we’re playing.”

The depth of Tennessee’s lineup is what makes it so dangerous. Eight players that started over the weekend have hit at least five home runs this season.

The Vols face Tennessee Tech on Tuesday at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tennessee before returning home to play Alabama next weekend.