What a year it’s been for Tennessee baseball and Tony Vitello. After a hot start last season and losing the rest of the schedule to the pandemic, Tennessee came roaring back during the 2020-21 slate to win the SEC East and capture the No. 3 overall seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
They’ve now moved through the regional and super regional rounds to advance to the College World Series in Omaha. For his efforts, Tony Vitello has been named coach of the year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
The organization made the announcement on Friday morning.
Tony Vitello of @Vol_Baseball is the 2021 Mike Martin Coach of the Year. In his fourth season in Knoxville, he has led his club to Omaha with its first 50-win season (50-16) since 1995 and the No. 3 national seed. https://t.co/9iuzdIY1OA pic.twitter.com/tzlfs58xUA— NCBWA (@NCBWA) June 18, 2021
“It is very fitting that Tony Vitello won the inaugural NCBWA Coach of the Year Award named in honor of Hall of Fame member Mike Martin,” said NCBWA executive director Bo Carter. “Coach Vitello put together possibly the best season in Tennessee baseball history and is very deserving of this top honor. He follows a long list of illustrious NCBWA Coaches of the Year.”
Tennessee won their 50th game last weekend, completing a series win against LSU to advance to Omaha. Vitello was hired in 2017, tasking with waking up a baseball program that had been asleep at the wheel for some time. A 29-27 mark in year one quickly grew into a 40 win season in year two, where the Volunteers made the regional round of the NCAA Tournament. As mentioned above, year three was cut short after a 15-2 start, but year four picked up right where Vitello’s squad left off.
The Volunteers are looking to take the next step now beginning this weekend, as they begin the true chase of a national title. Tennessee will open with Virginia on Sunday, and will face either Texas or Mississippi State after that, depending on outcomes.
However things end up in Omaha, Vitello is due for a raise and a significant financial commitment into his baseball facilities going forward.
The College World Series will get underway tomorrow, with the ESPN networks carrying the action.