The Tennessee Volunteers baseball team will travel to Round Rock, Texas to take part in the Round Rock Classic in Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express, the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.
The Classic will prove to be the Vols first test of the season as they have currently outscored opponents 53-6 over their first four games of the season as they swept Western Illinois for the opening series and topped UNC-Charlotte in some midweek action earlier this week.
The weekend will host two teams in the top 25 in No. 6 Texas Tech and No. 25 Stanford and a solid Houston Cougars team.
“We’re going to an unbelievable park and to a tournament that is going to be run like a (NCAA) regional,” head coach Tony Vitello said following Tuesday’s game. “We’re playing some of the top name brands in the country. It’ll be a unique deal for our guys, there’s a lot of excitement for it.”
UT will kickoff the weekend with their first game on Friday night at 8 P.M. ET as Chad Dallas will go toe-to-toe with Clayton Beeter of the Red Raiders. This will prove to be a huge challenge for Dallas and can be a chance for Tennessee to show what it is made of on a national stage as the Red Raiders are ranked in the top six in all polls, and even hold the top spot in the NCBWA rankings.
The Red Raiders bolster one of the best offenses in the country as they lead the nation with 12 home runs this season and have outscored their opponents 65-11 so far this season. The Tennessee pitching staff will have to come out strong and shut down Tech’s offense as this will be the best staff Tech has seen this season.
“This can be a statement for us,” junior Zach Daniels said. “We’re confident going down there. We want to prove a lot of people wrong so we’re excited to have the opportunity to do just that.”
On Saturday, Tennessee will take on Houston at 3 P.M. as Chase Wallace will get the ball for the Big Orange and Clay Aguilar for the Cougars. This will be a good chance for Tennessee to throw a lot of guys at Houston as they are 1-2 this season dropping their series to Youngstown State to start the year off as both times they fell in extra innings.
The Cougars will be out for blood as they look to bounce back from the tough loss since they had high expectations coming into the season as they were picked to finish second in the American conference behind two preseason All-AAC hurlers in Clay Aguilar and Lael Lockhart.
“It’s going to be difficult for sure,” said Jake Rucker after the win over UNC Charlotte. “We’re going to go in there and play our game, nothing is going to change, it’s just another opponent. We are going to go out there and do what we do.”
Tennessee will wrap up the Classic with Stanford on Sunday at 12 P.M. ET. The Vols’ pitcher is still to be determined, but the Cardinals will send Alex Williams to the mound to face the surging Tennessee offense.
Stanford began the season ranked at No. 17, but fell in the first rankings of the season as they went 1-3 on the week as they dropped two games of a three game series to Cal State Fullerton and lost its midweek battle to Santa Clara. The Cardinals have struggled to get men on base as they have only hit .156 as a team.
All three games of the Round Rock Classic will be aired on FloBaseball, a paid subscription service. Fans can listen to the games for free on UTSports’ website as John Wilkerson will be on the call.
Following this weekend, the Vols will enter a 10-game homestand beginning with two midweek games against Northern Kentucky on Tuesday and UNC Asheville on Wednesday.