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Tony Vitello Credits Past Vols For Sustained Success Of Tennessee Baseball

Tony Vitello Tennessee
Tennessee HC Tony Vitello. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee baseball’s sustained level success is extremely uncommon in college baseball. The Vols are back in the super regionals for the fourth straight season after sweeping through their fourth straight regional.

With a super regional victory, the Vols wiould return to the College World Series for the third time in the last four seasons. It’s hard for Tennessee coach Tony Vitello to pinpoint why the Vols have had so much success in the regionals. Every season and every weekend is different.

But there’s one thing Vitello knows for a fact about Tennessee baseball’s sustained success.

“The guys that came here our second and third and fourth year set life up much, much better for these guys that are to my left,” Vitello said on Monday. “Some of those guys set the tone. They made some people angry, made some people question what we are trying to do and crazy stuff. But what we were trying to do is get involved in this.”

Tennessee baseball didn’t ascend to the top of the sport in a shy way. Vitello’s program found its footing playing with an edge and backing away from no one. From Daddy Hats to extreme trash talk, Vitello’s first great teams were arrogant and did not care what others thought about them.

More From RTI: Everything Tony Vitello Said After Tennessee Won The Knoxville Regional

Did it go over the top at times? Sure. But after inheriting a second class program that didn’t believe it was good enough to compete with the best, Vitello welcomed his players believing that they were the best and good enough to do anything.

“Rather than knock on the door, some of these guys decided to try to kick the door in and throw helmets and stuff like that,” Vitello said. “Not all the best, but it put these two guys to the left in a better position.”

Drew Gilbert, Jordan Beck, Jake Rucker, Trey Lipscomb and others played with a fire that put Tennessee back on the map. A handful of players on the 2024 Vols— including Kavares Tears, Hunter Ensley, Christian Moore and Blake Burke— were on the 2022 team.

While they’re not nearly as brash, those players play with the same confidence that the 2022 team played with. The lessons that the 2022 Tennessee team learned and the way they changed the program’s standards are still positively impacting Vitello’s program.

After going 13 years without even making the NCAA Tournament before Vitello’s arrival, Tennessee has made five straight NCAA Tournaments and is two wins away from its third trip to the College World Series.

“I think the last three years have been a compound effect of some lessons learned and some things gained by other people that came before these guys,” Vitello said.

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