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Vols won’t be fazed with backs against the wall, season on the brink

On3 imageby:Eric Cain06/23/24


Tennessee Baseball Tony Vitello, Aj Causey & Dylan Loy Detail 9-5 Loss To Texas A&m In Cws Finals

OMAHA, Neb. – Saturday’s outcome was less than ideal for the Tennessee Volunteers. Texas A&M hung a five-spot in fifth and never looked back, cruising to the 9-5 victory in Game 1 of the 2024 College World Series Finals.

With another win on Sunday, the Aggies will be national champions. That means the Vols have their backs up against the wall once again with the season on the line.

“We are not in a spot we haven’t been before. We are just going to have to bounce back tomorrow,” outfielder Dalton Bargo told Volquest afterwards. “Just show up and do it again tomorrow. Early game – it’s our ‘Vol Special.’ We feel more prepared. We didn’t play our best tonight and we are going to come out with a different fire tomorrow and force game three.”

Tennessee is well equipped for the moment as the Vols have been in this situation before. Now, they’ve never been down a game in the national championship series – but the Vols have dropped a couple of openers before.

UT came up short in game ones against Georgia, Auburn and Kentucky in Southeastern Conference play. The squad went on to win the next two and claimed the series. Tennessee dropped its first game in Hoover last month yet bounced back to rattle off four-straight wins to steal the conference tournament title.

“It’s a three-round fight, so no matter who wins the first one, someone is going to have to win the second one,” catcher Cal Stark explained. “We will come back and try and get that second one tomorrow.

“Come out and compete. Play loose and play aggressive. No tension in the air. We are out there playing baseball on a field with a lot of fans. Just have fun.”

Just two weeks ago in the Knoxville Super Regional, the Vols dropped the second game and had to rally for a win-or-stay-home game three over Evansville. The Vols know what it takes to not be guaranteed another day.  

“You go through the season and you welcome competition for a reason; it will make you better in a few different ways,” skipper Tony Vitello said in postgame. “You find out different ways to respond, and you can either get frustrated that tonight went the way that it did, or you can get more determined. And we’ve got guys that have done that a lot in the past where determination kicks up, play kicks up.”

It also helps when you’ve got a veteran in Drew Beam who is the expected starter on Sunday. The righty dazzled against North Carolina last Sunday with five innings of one-run baseball.

“He’s thrown a lot of big games over his three-year career,” Stark continued. “For him to have the ball, we are going to feel good and hopefully he can give us a good outing.”

And regardless if it is Beam on the mound or someone from the bullpen, the faith in the offense to do it’s job is always there. This team is well-rounded and it’s tough to keep them down for long.

“Just as much confidence as we have in any other pitcher,” Bargo answered when asked of the confidence in Drew Beam on Sunday. “Our staff is the best in the country, especially when we have Beam on the mound. Theres’s never a doubt in our head. The bats are going to get going and Beam is going to shove.”

For Texas A&M to finish off Tennessee on Sunday, it will need to do what only one other team has done to do the Vols this season – win back-to-back games. The only time that’s happened this season was when Tennessee played Alabama in Tuscaloosa back on Mach 16-17.

Then Vols are 11-1 this season following a loss. Sunday won’t be easy but this team has proven all year long it can bounce back in a hurry.

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