Tennessee baseball is subscribing to the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The Vols will stick to the pitching plan that’s paid dividends the last two weeks in this weekend’s super regional series against Notre Dame.
“Blade (Tidwell) will throw on Friday, again, and (Chase) Dollander will throw on Saturday,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “Then, just like Notre Dame, I think both of us will see what reality is – you’re assured two games – and if Sunday rolls around, we will worry about Sunday when it does. For now, we would just like to attack Friday and its only fair to Dollander and of course they are doing the same thing, throwing our your guy who is going to start in Game 2 to prepare.”
That plan has worked well for Tennessee since postseason play began two weeks ago. Tidwell started the SEC Tournament opener against Vanderbilt before Dollander tamed a fantastic LSU Tigers’ lineup on the Vols’ way to winning the SEC Tournament.
Tennessee kept the formula the same in the Knoxville Regional. Tidwell dominated Alabama State to open the weekend before Campbell ran Dollander from the game in the third inning of Tennessee’s game two win.
Vitello left the game three pitching plan open ended. Freshman Drew Beam started game three of the SEC Tournament and Knoxville Regional, but was inconsistent in the two starts and much of the last month.
Four innings pitched is Beam’s longest outing in the last month and after surrendering just 13 walks in the regular season, the Murfreesboro native has surrendered eight walks in two postseason starts.
“You’ve seen situations where a pitch has not been taken off—the kid’s too good of a competitor—but not thrown with conviction or just not letting it go through your spot,” Vitello said. “That’ll get him behind in the count, or it will be a poor enough mistake that maybe a guy hits it. I would say that would be the sole thing that I’m 100 percent confident I’ve seen. I have not said that to him. I think coach [Frank Anderson] has kind of said it in his words. Again, I think we’re probably going to use him this weekend in some situations, starter or relief. We’re confident regardless of what it is, but the key for him is the same for all of our guys: Be you.”
Tennessee’s extremely deep pitching staff has a number of suitable candidates to start a potential series rubber match. Like Beam, freshman Chase Burns has been a weekend starter for much of the season before sliding into a bullpen role for much of the last month.
Senior Camden Sewell is one of Tennessee’s most effective pitchers and shined in his first start of the season, holding Florida scoreless in five innings pitched in the SEC Tournament Championship.
The Vols and Fighting Irish open the Knoxville Super Regional at 6 p.m. ET Friday night. ESPN2 is broadcasting the series opener.