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Vols’ Sweep at Vandy Significant 

This past weekend, Tennessee defeated Vanderbilt.

Ordinarily, that statement would most likely draw a smile, a grimace or a shoulder shrug, depending upon the allegiance of the individual.

This was different, however.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Tennessee went to Vanderbilt and swept the vaunted Commodore baseball team This is the same Vanderbilt team that perpetually churns out Major League players and has two recent College World Series crowns dangling from its hat rack.

For years, Vandy had been a team on the rise. Why not? You see guys like David Price, Pedro Alvarez and Dansby Swanson consistently show up in Major League box scores and it’s easy to see why the ‘Dores are perennial contenders. Vandy coach Tim Corbin is a class act, a great coach and recruiter.

For the past decade or so, his team has ruled the roost.

Sure, the Commodores wear the star, but it seems, indeed, that the there is a new sheriff in town named Tony Vitello. His hiring may have been one of the few things former Tennessee AD John Currie may have gotten right.

Tennessee baseball has racked up a 27-1 record and is off to a 9-0 SEC worksheet, the best start in school history. Why? Vitello also is a class act, a great coach and recruiter.

Consider that his team swept then-No. 1 Ole Miss in Oxford. Vandy was ranked No. 3 in a poll last week. Oh, by the way, the Vols swept South Carolina, too. The Gamecocks, in case you wondered, have been to the College World Series 11 times, winning twice in 2010 and 2011. It’s not like they are creampuffs.

Tennessee is earning its stripes.

This has to be a concern for Corbin, who, for a decade or more, carried this part of SEC country with impunity. He got the talent he wanted and could afford to be selective. He still has the rings, the chops and status to be selective, but he’s got a fight on his hands three hours away.

Tennessee has steadily worked itself into a much-improved program. The Vols went to the College World Series last year and has rocketed from a No. 16 pre-season ranking all the way to the top spot in the polls.

College baseball is drawing increased interest nationwide and it certainly had reached a fever’s pitch in these parts with the success of Vandy and Tennessee. It should only get better moving forward.

This can be good for both programs. But Vanderbilt must know how significant Tennessee’s sweep this weekend was.

Suddenly, Vanderbilt’s portion of the baseball pie has gotten quite a bit smaller.

Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show,  which airs 4-6 p.m CT on 95.9, WRJB radio, Camden, Tennessee.

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