Baseball vs JMU

No. 46 Redmond Walsh pitching against JMU at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Wednesday, Mar 9, 2022.

HOOVER, Ala. – Tony Vitello mistook Redmond Walsh for a team manager when he arrived in Knoxville in 2018.

The left-handed reliever had redshirted his first season at Tennessee and was injured for the first six months after Vitello and Co. took over the program. It’s not hard to see how a new coaching staff could have mistaken the side-lined, 5-foot-10 and 165 pound Walsh for a manager.

Walsh earned the new coaching staff’s trust and over the years he became a fixture at the back of Tennessee’s bullpen. As Friday night turned into Saturday morning, the longtime Vol put the latest mark on what has been a historic, yet unexpected career.

Walsh recorded his 23rd career save in the No. 1 seed Vols’ 5-2 win over No. 4 LSU in the third round of the SEC Tournament at The Hoover Met, tying Todd Helton’s program career saves record.

“When your name is in the same category as probably the best player to ever come through Tennessee,” Walsh said, “there’s not any words to really put it in to.”

Walsh entered in the eighth inning and faced more resistance from his broken zipper than he did from LSU’s lineup.

Walsh struck out one batter and got the SEC Co-Player of the Year Dylan Crews to flyout for his record-tying save.

“And good for him to have that individual deal,” Vitello said. “That's something he'll be able to remember and throw around the clubhouse when he returns to campus.”

Walsh became the second Vol to tie one of Helton’s milestone records. Catcher Evan Russell – a fellow super senior – hit his 38th career home run in the Vols’ win over Mississippi State on May 21, tying Helton’s career home run record.

After the game, Vitello poked fun at the unsuspecting Walsh and career walk-on Russell being the ones to tie the college baseball hall of famer.

“Yeah, that's a little difference in size right there,” Vitello said. “Geez. You’ve got Evan Russell and Redmond Walsh, two intramural guys mentioned with Todd Helton in those two categories.”

The hometown product Walsh has come a long way since being mistaken as a manager in 2018.

Walsh recorded nine saves in 2019 as the Vols returned to the NCAA Regionals for the first time in 13 years, two in the COVID-shortened 2020 season and five in 2021 as Tennessee reached the College World Series. Walsh’s save Friday night was his seventh of the 2022 campaign.

A native of Louisville, Tennessee, and an Alcoa High School alum, Walsh grew up watching Tennessee greats like Helton, Luke Hochevar and J.P. Arencibia. To be in the same ranks as his childhood idols is not something Walsh takes for granted.

“Just being a hometown kid and watching Todd Helton and watching those guys play… you want to be like them,” Walsh said. “I’m not saying that I am, but it’s one of those things that to be in that category is an unbelievable feeling.”

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