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Tennessee Baseball wins CWS national title thanks to Tony Vitello’s stubbornness

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We all disagreed with him. Tennessee Baseball nearly lost to the Florida State Seminoles with Chris Stamos starting on the mound to open the College World Series, and they then lost to the Texas A&M Aggies in the opening round of the finals based on Vitello’s same decision.

Conventional wisdom in baseball is in a shortened series, you avoid your rotation and go out of your way to get the best pitchers out there. Vitello, however, lives by the philosophy of treating every series the same, so Drew Beam and Zander Sechrist had to wait until Games 2 and 3.

With that move, Vitello would have to bank on Tennessee Baseball being clutch enough if they fell behind in the series to still play just as well. That’s exactly what they did. By working the pitch count of A&M through a game and a half, things finally started to pay off at the end of Game 2.

It all came together in the rubber match, as the Vols scored three off A&M’s starter, Justin Lamkin. The real story is what they did to Evan Aschenbeck in the seventh, though. Aschenbeck is the best closer in baseball and gave up just one earned run through the entire NCAA Tournament until that inning.

After working him on Friday and running up that pitch count, though, UT was finally able to cash in. They had four hits, and three of them scored. All were after two outs, which has been the mark of the Vols this postseason. Their four runs in Sunday’s win came off two homers, all after two outs, and they scored five of six after two outs Monday.

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Speaking of clutch, two of those three runs against Aschenbeck came from a two-run shot from Dylan Dreiling, who epitomizes the mental toughness of this team. Dreiling hit a home run every single College World Series finals game, and two of them came after two outs.

Then Tennessee Baseball was able to turn to Nate Snead for a second day in a row, and he once again surrendered 0 runs before they turned to Dylan Loy, Kirby Connell and then Aaron Combs, who closed out the final two innings respectively.

That followed a masterpiece by Sechrist, just like Beam had a masterpiece Sunday, as each starter just surrendered one run. Sechrist’s is what spotted the Vols the win, as Beam’s bought them the time they needed to come back late on Sunday.

It was all part of Vitello’s plan. He stuck to his rotation and banked on his team not panicking as things got tight. They didn’t, and as a result, Tennessee Baseball has its first national championship in school history. It’s been a while since a UT coach made such a bold decision that was the stuff of legend.

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