Hot time coming in ‘Omaha, Omaha’

Marvin Westwestwords

Hot time coming in “Omaha, Omaha” as Peyton used to say, hot weather and hot teams squaring off in the best-of-three final series of the College World Series.

The show resumes this evening at 7:30 on ESPN. Sunday game begins at 2 on ABC.

Tennessee and Texas A&M were probably the best two all along. The Vols have won 12 of their last 13 and the Aggies have won eight in a row.

Southeastern Conference people can sit back and enjoy the clash. As usual, either way, the big league wins (five consecutive titles).

Vols’ coach Tony Vitello and Aggies’ coach Jim Schlossnagle know each other well. Tony was an assistant and key recruiter on Jim’s staff at Texas Christian in 2011-13.

“Lot of respect for the man.”

Tony Vitello

Tony V says, so far, there is no emotional overload.

“I’m kind of at the point where I’m just following my guys. There are certain tasks I have to do, and there’s direction I give them, and they’ll listen. But kind of following them right now. Makes it nice.”

If you don’t know anything about the two teams, here are players to watch:

Blake Burke is hitting .500 for Tennessee in the tournament, with a .579 on-base percentage and 1.214 slugging percentage.

Billy Amick has three home runs and seven RBI. Hunter Ensley is hitting .353 with a double, three home runs, seven RBI and a spectacular catch in center field. He tried but failed to knock down the wall.

Kavares Tears had a key triple in the ninth inning of the dramatic comeback victory over Florida State in the first game. He made a sensational defensive save in center against North Carolina, including a crash into that same wall to almost match Ensley’s.

Watch out for Christian Moore, the Vols’ home-run leader with 33. At any time, he might drive a ball to Iowa.

For Texas A&M, Hayden Schott is hitting .615, with a double, home run and seven RBI. Kaeden Kent is batting .444 with a double, a home run and seven RBI. Jace LaViolette is playing despite a sore hamstring.

Tennessee will use the first-game pitching plan it has followed since April – opener Chris Stamos and middle man A.J. Causey. Stamos usually goes an inning or two. Causey has 13 victories, only two fewer than Luke Hochevar’s 2005 total. Causey has 120 strikeouts in 87⅔ innings.

Texas A&M will be looking for a pitcher to again step up, presumably Chris Cortez or/and Evan Aschenbeck. If ace Ryan Prager is available, it will be on short rest. He threw 95 pitches in 6.2 innings on Monday.

The Aggies could go with an opener, maybe Tanner Jones. He struggled some down the stretch but pitched against Oregon on June 9.

A&M pitchers have allowed only three runs and 16 hits in 27 innings.


Notes and quotes:

“We’re just a gritty team and we’re going to do anything it takes to win,” said Moore. “We have a lot of homers and that’s kind of our thing but we’re going to play hard for all 27 outs and I think we showed that all season. It’s a beautiful thing.”


The best thing that happened when Vitello worked as an assistant for Schlossnagle in Fort Worth was “I spent a lot of time with Josh Elander. That’s kind of where our relationship stemmed from.”

Elander is associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Tennessee.


The Aggies haven’t lost since Tennessee knocked them out of the SEC tournament, 7-4. The Vols’ pitching pair of Stamos and Causey combined for 10 strikeouts in 7⅓ innings.

Texas A&M won the regional at home (including an epic 11-inning victory over the Texas Longhorns) and swept Oregon in the Super Regional. It defeated Florida, Kentucky and Florida again to get where it is.


History lesson: Long, long before Drew Beam emerged as a Tennessee pitcher, the Vols had one named Tommy Bridges. That was 1927-28-29. Before you ask, I didn’t see him but it was close.

Those were not the good old days for the Volunteers. In Bridges’ three years, they lost all six games to Vanderbilt. They also lost to Hiwassee, Milligan, Maryville and Carson-Newman.

Bridges was only 5-10 and 155 but could throw a fastball very fast and a curve that was wicked. Detroit offered a pro contract. Tommy made his major league debut in relief against the famed New York Yankees. First batter Babe Ruth grounded out. Third batter Lou Gehrig struck out.

Tommy shrugged and said the awesome Yanks looked a lot like the men of Johnson Bible College. Fortunately, also famous New York sports writers did not quote him.

Bridges won 159 MLB games. He was voted America’s second most-famous athlete in 1935.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you today.

Marvin West welcomes comments or questions from readers. His address is


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