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Analyzing Tony Vitello’s Impact on Tennessee’s College World Series Loss to LSU

By: Dallas Bowlin

Senior Staff Writer/

Junior Editor

The All Vol Call In Show

Following Tennessee baseball’s disappointing season-ending loss to LSU in the College World Series, many Volunteer fans were left asking a familiar question: What exactly went wrong?

A seemingly popular response to that question is one that is all too common among sports fans: It's the coach's fault.

Whether it's Rick Barnes' team losing a very winnable game to Florida Atlantic in the NCAA Tournament or Josh Heupel's team appearing lost and uninspired versus South Carolina in the regular season, there is always blame thrown at the head man's feet, and sometimes that guilt is fair, and sometimes the reality resides in an uncomfortable truth: sometimes your team isn't good enough.

Tennessee finishes the season as the country's second-highest ERA (earned run average) team, with 568.0 innings pitched and an ERA of 3.63. Tennessee was statistically one of the greatest pitching teams in the country. LSU, on the other hand, had the sixteenth-best batting average in the country, the seventh-most hits, and the second-most home runs. Simply speaking, LSU had one of the top batting teams in the country.

The Volunteers were dealt a terrible draw in the college world series in all reality. Tennessee was already behind the eight-ball when it faced LSU and potentially the finest pitcher in the country in Paul Skenes in its first game in Omaha. If the Vols had gotten lucky and avoided having to run the gauntlet after losing game one, they might still be in the tournament.

There aren't many excuses to be made in the second game. Tennessee faced a mediocre Tigers pitching staff that was missing its top three pitchers, but the Vols were unable to generate any offense. Tennessee’s tally of six hits was three fewer than their average. That is simply inexcusable given the pitching staff they faced.

Back to the fundamental topic: is this loss on Tony Vitello? Many fans, in my opinion, will be disappointed with the answer: yes and no. Vitello undoubtedly committed some errors. Beam was possibly pulled from the mound a little too soon. Same with Russell, who struck out three batters in a row, and possibly Halvorsen, who didn't get much of a chance at all. Vitello, on the other hand, is not to blame for a terrible batting performance. Vitello is not to blame for losing a very easy ball to field and sabotaging a potential double play.

As I stated in the first paragraph, it is quite simple. Sometimes your team isn't up to the task. And on that night, Tennessee wasn’t up to the task.

Photo Above | A to Z Sports


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