11th-ranked Vols set to make a splash in SEC play
By: Tyler Wesley
The All Vol Call in Show
Tony Vitello and the 11th ranked Tennessee Volunteers are off to a hot start for the second year in a row. After beating the Longwood Lancers 28-2 Tuesday night, the Vols are sitting at 13-0. They’re currently leading the nation with 24 homers, as well as leading the nation with 108 base-on-balls. They just posted their third shut-out of the season this past Sunday. Tennessee has shot up the polls quickly, going from unranked, to currently ranked 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll. In recent weeks, we’ve seen the Vols beat top ranked Texas Tech and a ranked foe in Stanford to cap a perfect weekend in the Round Rock Classic. Last week Tennessee went a perfect 5-0, outscoring their opposition an impressive 51-6.
Beating Northern Kentucky, UNC Asheville, and George Washington last week, Tennessee’s offense has been a major talk of college baseball. Tennessee is led by junior Zach Daniels, who is rated as the 48th overall 2020 MLB draft prospect, is tied for the team lead in home runs with three, and is second on the team with a .368 average. A newcomer worth noting is freshman Drew Gilbert. He’s a multi position player who starts in the outfield, but can also come out the bullpen as a power left hand pitcher. He has a fastball that will touch the lower 90’s, but has a power curveball to keep hitters off balance. He’s leading the team with a .375 average. Last weekend we saw Gilbert go 4-5 during game 2 with a double and a homer.
Chad Dallas and Jackson Leath lead the bullpen charge on the season. Leath, a junior right-hander, has amassed an impressive 27 strikeouts against three walks in 14.0 innings of work. He had 12 strikeouts in a start against Western Illinois on just 4.1 innings. Dallas is a sophomore who picked up the win against top ranked Texas Tech back on February 21. He tallied eight punch-outs in the game and gave up two walks.
The most impressive thing worth commenting on this season is how well the Volunteers have played without their expected stars being very productive, and their ace yet to see any action. The tall lefty Garrett Crochet was a 2020 Baseball America Preseason first team All-American. With a fastball that has been rumored to be between 96-100mph during fall ball, he is being held out due to some lingering back issues. It appears Tony Vitello has a talented roster to play with this year, and the Vols could make some noise, not only in conference play -- maybe even Omaha.