Vols Baseball Racks Up Plenty of SEC Post Season Honors
(utsports.com) BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The 2022 Southeastern Conference postseason honors were announced on Monday afternoon and Tennessee was well-represented with a league-high five players named to the all-conference teams and three Vols earning major awards.
In total, six UT players racked up nine overall selections on the All-SEC first and second teams, as well as the SEC All-Freshman team and SEC All-Defensive team.
The Vols’ five honorees on the All-SEC teams marked the second most in a single season in program history, just one behind the 1994 squad, which had six.
Three Vols earned major awards, led by head coach Tony Vitello, who was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the first time after leading the Big Orange to the best regular season in program history. Tennessee went 49-7 while leading the country in victories and posting the top RPI in the land. UT achieved its first-ever No. 1 ranking in any poll and ended up spending seven weeks as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country. The Volunteers smashed program records in season home runs, ERA (not including the shortened 2020 season) and attendance while winning the conference for the fourth time in program history. UT won the conference by a record six games and won the eastern division by 10 games, also a league record.
Vitello is just the third coach in program history to earn SEC Coach of the Year honors, joining S.W. Anderson (1951), and Rod Delmonico, who won it in back-to-back years in 1994 and 1995.
Chase Dollander earned SEC Pitcher of the Year acclaim after a stellar debut season on Rocky Top. The Georgia native is just the second player in program history to garner the honor, joining former big leaguer Luke Hochevar, who won the award in 2005.
Dollander was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week twice and led the conference in ERA (2.30), opponent batting average (.158), fewest hits allowed (35) and fewest walks allowed (nine). The sophomore right hander also finished tied for second in the SEC with eight wins, posting a perfect 8-0 record in the regular season. His 90 strikeouts also led the team and ranked tied for second in the league despite missing two weeks of action due to an injury.
Though the Vols had multiple worthy candidates, pitcher Drew Beam took home SEC Freshman of the Year honors after an impressive first year at Tennessee. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native holds the second-lowest WHIP in the country (0.84) and held opponents to a .184 batting average, the second-best mark in the SEC. Beam accumulated an 8-1 record and burst onto the scene by throwing a complete-game, two-hit shutout on the road at then No. 3 Vanderbilt on April 3, earning him numerous national pitcher of the week honors.
The freshman right hander earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors twice and was also named the SEC Pitcher of the Week on April 4. Beam is the second player – and the first pitcher – in program history to garner SEC Freshman of the Year honors, joining former big leaguer J.P. Arencibia (2005).
This year marks the first time in program history that the Vols had the SEC Coach of the Year, SEC Pitcher of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year in the same season, adding yet another accomplishment to the list of impressive records and accolades.
Aside from the major postseason awards, Tennessee also had five players earn All-SEC recognition and three players named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Dollander, Trey Lipscomb and Drew Gilbert were all named All-SEC first team selections while Beam and fellow freshman pitcher Chase Burns were voted to the second team by the league’s coaches. Beam, Burns and Blake Burke all garnered spots on the SEC All-Freshman team, as well.
Lipscomb, who was among the favorites to win SEC Player of the Year, was the first-team selection at third base after a breakout senior season. The Frederick, Maryland, native shattered his career highs in every offensive category while leading the conference with 74 RBIs and 158 total bases. He also finished tied for the SEC lead with 21 home runs and ranked among the league leaders in runs scored (t-2nd – 61), slugging percentage (2nd – .749) and hits (t-7th – 74). Lipscomb was named the SEC Co-Player of the Week on Feb. 28 and earned multiple National Player/Hitter of the Week honors after becoming just the fourth player in program history to hit for the cycle, doing so in a win over Iona on Feb. 25.
Gilbert earned All-SEC postseason recognition for the first time in his UT career after another excellent season for the Big Orange. As Tennessee’s cleanup hitter, Gilbert finished the regular season with a team-high and SEC-best .385 batting average and ranked second on the team with 57 RBIs, which was also tied for fourth in the conference. The Stillwater, Minnesota, native led the team with 17 doubles and four triples (both career highs) and hit eight home runs. He also drew a career-high 31 walks and led the team with a .485 on-base percentage, a mark that ranked third in the SEC. Gilbert was the lone Vol named to the SEC All-Defensive team, positing a .989 fielding percentage while recording three assists from center field.
Burns backed up his lofty recruiting ranking with a stellar freshman campaign, serving as Tennessee’s Friday-night starter for the majority of the season. The Gallatin, Tennessee, native posted a 7-1 record and a 2.53 ERA in 14 appearances, 13 of which were weekend starts. His ERA ranked second in the SEC behind Dollander and just ahead of Beam while his 88 strikeouts ranked second on the team and fourth in the league. Burns was named the SEC Freshman of the Week on March 28 and was named to the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List, as well.
Burke rounded out UT’s list of players to earn SEC postseason accolades, garnering a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team after batting .366 and blasting 10 home runs in just 71 at-bats. The talented freshman drove in 26 runs , scored 23 times and would have led the team with a 1.375 OPS, a .859 slugging percentage and a .516 on-base percentage if he had the minimum required number of at-bats.
The complete list of SEC postseason award and all-conference teams can be seen HERE.
2022 SEC Postseason Honors – Tennessee
SEC All-Defensive Team:
Drew Gilbert – OF