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The villains of college baseball set for another SEC series

The Tigers have won five straight against the Vols. However, their last meeting was in 2019 in Hoover for the SEC Tournament.
Tennessee set to welcome in Auburn for another SEC series
Tennessee set to welcome in Auburn for another SEC series(WVLT)
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 8:05 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - No. 1 Tennessee is ready to welcome in cross-division rival, Auburn. A team Tony Vitello has not been beaten as UT’s head baseball coach.

The Tigers have won five straight against the Vols. However, their last meeting was in 2019 in Hoover for the SEC Tournament.

Like the Volunteers, No. 19 Auburn are winners of their last seven.

Coach Vitello expects a battle against Auburn. One in which he says his defense will have to come up big.

”The tall task that everyone’s had is getting Sonny Dichiara out,” said Vitello. “I hope I’m saying it right, I’ve heard his name pronounced a couple of different ways, but either way there’s some Italian blood in there so you can’t hate him too much. But he will be wearing a different color and he’s a huge threat and his numbers are off the charts. He sits in the middle of the lineup like some of our big thumpers do. But he’s also surrounded by guys sitting up at the top, one of the better leadoff hitters in the league. It is a well-balanced attack.”

The Diamond Vols have been tabbed as the villains of college baseball. However, Coach Vitello said he doesn’t want to know the full story as to why.

He said their aggressiveness on the field and maturity off the field is the exact combination you want.

He said this is also true in the pitching staff.

Vitello said, “I say this lightly, I do have nieces and Frank [Anderson, pitching coach] has a daughter you feel okay, I guess, with them hanging around them off the field. But on the field, they want to win and so do we. And no one wants to win more than Tennessee fans.”

Another pitcher that maybe doesn’t fit the villain narrative, junior righty Mark McLaughlin.

In a crowded bullpen, he’s of late, he’s beginning to see the mound more and more.

Vitello said, it’s because he took control of the situation.

“He came into the office and said, ‘Give me the dang ball.’ And I think literally he said dang,” said Vitello.

Vitello continued on his composure on the mound, “He’s another one, I think he’s too nice of a kid. And I think people are misconstrued too when they see him pitch because maybe not as much emotion as Cam Sewell or as big of a mustache as Kirby Connell and other things like that. He just goes out there and gets the job done.”

Tennessee and Auburn clash for their three-game series Friday night.

First pitch is slate for 7:00 p.m.

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