The NCAA Tournament in college baseball begins next weekend, and in D1 Baseball’s projected field of 64 teams, the media outlet has Tennessee as a 2-seed in the Greenville Region with host East Carolina (42-13).
The Vols are joined by 3-seed Duke (30-24) and 4-seed Campbell (32-19) in those projections. D1 Baseball slates ECU as the No. 9 overall seed in the field. UT is one of 11 SEC teams projected to make the tournament.
Tennessee hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tournament in baseball since 2005, and the Vols haven’t advanced to the College World Series in the tournament since 2005 either. Overall, Tennessee has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament on nine different occasions, and eight of those appearances came from 1993 through 2005.
Although the NCAA Tournament begins next weekend, the focus this week resides in Hoover, Alabama for Tennessee.
As the nine-seed in the SEC Tournament, the Vols (38-18, 14-16 SEC) will face eight-seed Auburn at 5:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday afternoon. It’s the first appearance at the Hoover Met for Tennessee since 2016, a stadium in which it has not won an SEC Tournament game since 2007.
The Vols have likely locked up a spot in the NCAA Tournament following their series win over then-ranked No. 15 Ole Miss this past weekend, but a win in Hoover would all but guarantee Tennessee a spot in the field of 64.
According to Baseball America, a win over Auburn would remove all doubt.
“Like Auburn, Tennessee is probably fine,” Baseball America writes. “If anything, it may be in a better position, thanks to its No. 11 RPI. But a win Tuesday against Auburn would eliminate the doubt, which would probably be welcome for a program that hasn’t made regionals since 2005.”
Junior right-hander Garrett Stallings (8-3, 3.12 ERA) will start for the Vols against the Tigers. Auburn is slated to start LHP Elliott Anderson (5-2, 4.13 ERA).
Tony Vitello’s squad will be looking for redemption when the first pitch is thrown against Auburn down in Hoover. The Vols opened up conference play against the Tigers in Auburn during the weekend of March 15-17. In Game 1 on the plains, Tennessee lost 2-0. UT then fell 5-2 in Game 2 and 5-3 in the series finale.
Should they win, UT will advance to the second round on Wednesday and face 1-seed Vanderbilt at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Vandy took two of three games against Tennessee when the two teams met in the regular season. The Commodores won the first two games of the series 4-2 and 10-4, respectively. The Vols took the series finale 7-6, but they lost the overall series.
Tennessee’s 38 total wins and 14 conference victories are the most for the program since 2005, which is the last time the Vols made the NCAA Tournament. It was also the year that the Vols made a run to their fourth College World Series. That team won 46 games overall and went 18-11 in SEC play.