Vols dominate SEC baseball awards

Tennessee's dominance of Southeastern Conference baseball this season was reflected Monday when Tony Vitello was named the league's coach of the year, Chase Dollander pitcher of the year and Drew Beam freshman of the year.

The Volunteers had three first-team selections with Dollander, third baseman Trey Lipscomb and outfielder Drew Gilbert, while Beam and fellow freshman pitcher Chase Burns made the second team. The five overall selections were the most for Tennessee since six Vols were picked in 1994.

Vitello is the third in program history to be voted SEC coach of the year, joining S.W. Anderson in 1951 and Rod Delmonico, who won it back-to-back in the 1994-95 seasons. The Vols completed a 49-7 regular season and a 25-5 run through SEC play with Saturday's 10-5 victory at Mississippi State, winning the SEC East by 10 games and the overall title by six to set league margin records in both categories.

Dollander is just the second from Tennessee to win the league's top pitching honor, joining Luke Hochevar in 1995, while Beam is the first Vols pitcher ever to be named the top SEC freshman. The vote of the league's coaches yielded a tie for player of the year between Auburn's Sonny DiChiara and LSU's Dylan Crews.

Named to the SEC's first team were Florida's BT Riopelle at catcher, Auburn's DiChiara at first base, Mississippi State's RJ Yeager at second base, Mississippi's Jacob Gonzalez at shortstop, Tennessee's Lipscomb at third, Vanderbilt's Enrique Bradfield, LSU's Crews and Tennessee's Gilbert in the outfield, Tennessee's Dollander and Georgia's Jonathan Cannon as the starting pitchers, Kentucky's Tyler Guilfoil as the relief pitcher, and Vanderbilt's Dominic Keegan as the designated hitter/utility player.

Gilbert led the Vols with a .385 batting average and ranked second on the team with 57 RBIs, while Lipscomb led the SEC with 74 RBIs and 158 total bases and tied for the lead in home runs with 21.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.