There isn't much this Tennessee baseball team can't do, which they proved again on Sunday afternoon in Gainesville. Having already taken the first two games of the series, the Vols rallied in the 9th inning to tie the game, then Christian Moore ended it with a 2-run homer in the 11th inning.
The Vols ended up sweeping the Gators, setting a program record with their eighth series sweep of the season. This was also the first time Tennessee has swept the Gators in Gainesville since 2001, adding to the thrilling comeback. Tony Vitello talked about character after the game.
"Just a tremendous character win by our guys and kinda bailed me out cause I would've looked like a clown coming back and ruining things," he said.
Sunday was the first game back for Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello, who was serving a four-game suspension. Coming off back-to-back impressive wins on Friday and Saturday night, the Vols looked all but dead in the series finale. But the best team in college baseball rallied in the 9th with 3 runs, tying it up after it looked as if they'd be heading home with a loss.
Tony Vitello was asked postgame about not being at the park the last few days and returning on Sunday, being able to feel out the game.
"It was tough when you're in the park, and I am no genius, but you kinda feel things out. I would've changed a couple things today, nothing major based on the vibe here this morning. But, the players gotta play, especially when you get closer to playoff time, and our guys played well today, but more than anything they fought well and they seem to fight together, too.
"Some guys called upon that aren't everyday players that played very very well for us," Vitello added. "You have to point out what Redmond (Walsh) did, if anybody was watching or listening, you have to point out that."
Thanks to pitcher Redmond Walsh in the final three innings, Tennessee had multiple chances to take the lead in extra innings. But it was Christian Moore that put the Vols on top for the first time on Sunday.
There are so many different ways this team can beat you, which they proved again on Sunday. It was a seven-run second inning on Friday night that led to the win, then following it up with a great pitching performance from Blade Tidwell on Saturday to secure the 3-0 win.
Tennessee has found a way to continue causing problems for opposing teams, whether that be with their pitching or hitting, it's hard to beat this team. The power the Vols get from Jordan Beck, Drew Gilbert, Luc Lipcius and others has benefited this team, but they are also playing small-ball extremely well. There are just too many ways this team can defeat opponents, which is the reason why they have won 37 games this season, while also having a 17-1 SEC record.
The Gators had momentum over the course of the entire game, but couldn't put the Vols away, which has been the case for multiple teams this season. What Tony Vitello has right now with this team is a group of players that feel they can't be defeated, no matter the situation. So, the confidence this team brings to the field every game is hard to match. Tony Vitello mentioned the fight in this team and called them relentless.
"They were relentless, and I think a play that epitomized it was Logan Steenstra is a guy who's fully capable of being an everyday SEC player, but he's not on this particular team as of right now and maybe his best play was him sticking his nose in that bunt play at first base. He made a tough play and that's what we needed out of all our guys today."
The Vols will return home to face Xavier on Tuesday night, followed by a series against Auburn in Knoxville. If this team continues to find different ways to win, it will continue to be a major problem for opponents in the conference.