When the 2019 NCAA baseball tournament is announced at noon on Monday, Tennessee will be in the field of 64 for the first time since 2005 barring some sort of shocking decision.
As for where the the Vols will head for regionals — which are held from Friday, May 31st to Sunday, June 2nd — that is yet to be determined.
According to D1 Baseball, Tennessee (38-19) projects as a 2-seed in the Chapel Hill Regional. Along with North Carolina (42-17), the hosting team, the Vols would be joined by 3-seed Campbell and 4-seed UNC Wilmington (32-29).
The Tar Heels are coming off a 10-2 victory over Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament Championship Game. Across four ACC Tournament games, North Carolina’s relievers allowed just six earned runs over 25 innings.
Campbell, the Fighting Camels, also won its conference tournament and are reigning Big South tournament champions. UNC Wilmington won its conference tournament as well, the Colonial title, with a 6-5 win over Elon.
The five-hour drive to Chapel Hill would be a favorable draw for Tony Vitello’s squad. But in Baseball America’s latest tournament predictions, the Vols are projected to head out to the west coast.
Baseball America has the Vols as a 3-seed in the Corvallis Regional out in Oregon with last year’s National Champion, Oregon State. With the Beavers (36-18-1) hosting, Tennessee would be joined by 2-seed UC Santa Barbara (45-9) and 4-seed Bryant (40-20).
UC Santa Barbara is coming off a 7-0 win over Cal Poly that resulted in the Gauchos’ first Big West title since 1986. In Oregon State’s last outing, it lost two of three to USC. Meanwhile, Bryant lost to Central Connecticut 3-2 in the NEC title game.
Should Tennessee win its regional, the Vols would advance to Super Regionals, which are held from Friday, June 7th to Monday, June 10th. The College World Series is held in Omaha, Nebraska from June June 15th to June 25th or 26th.
Tennessee is coming off a season where it finished third in the SEC East with a conference record of 14-16. It’s the highest Tennessee has finished within the division since 2005, which was also the last UT team to make the NCAA Tournament.
Sticking with the 2005 trend, Tennessee’s 38 total wins and 14 conference victories in year two under Vitello are the most for the program since that 2005 squad. The 2005 Tennessee baseball team went 46-21 overall, 18-11 in SEC play, and finished second in the SEC East. In the NCAA Tournament, the Vols were a No. 1 seed in the Knoxville Regional and defeated Austin Peay, Winthrop, and Wichita State on their way to the Super Regionals. The Vols then took down Georgia Tech in the Super Regional to make it to the College World Series. There, Tennessee lost 6-4 to Florida and then fell 4-2 to Arizona State in the loser’s bracket.
In the opening round of the SEC Tournament, the Vols lost to 8-seed Auburn, 5-3. Tennessee was a 9-seed in the tournament. It was the first appearance in Hoover for the Vols since 2016, though the program still hasn’t won a game in the tournament since 2007.