VOLS: Tony Vitello intro

University of Tennessee Head Baseball Coach Tony Vitello speaks to the crowd at a 2017 introductory event while Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics John Currie (left) smiles at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.

Tony Vitello has the Tennessee baseball team on an upward trajectory after two seasons as the coach. As a result, Vitello’s salary is going up, too.

Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer on Wednesday announced a contract extension for Vitello through the 2024 season.

The extension includes salary increases that gives Vitello a base salary of $580,000 next season. His salary rises to $650,000 by the end of the agreement. Vitello’s initial contract netted him a salary of $493,000 per year.

Tennessee won 40 games and made the NCAA Tournament this season for the first time since 2005.

The Vols went 2-2 in the tournament and finished as runner up to No. 14 national seed North Carolina at the Chapel Hill Regional.

The Vols’ third-place finish in the SEC’s Eastern Division was their highest finish since 2005.

Their 26 victories over non-conference teams were their highest total since 2000.

“Impressive doesn’t begin to describe the job Tony has done with our baseball program these past two seasons,” Fulmer said in a statement. “I believe we have in Coach Vitello one of the nation’s brightest young head coaches. From managing the game, to player development, to recruiting and relating to today’s student-athletes — Tony has a firm grasp on all aspects of leading a major program.

“He’s surrounded himself with an outstanding staff, and we are going to support them as Tennessee baseball continues to climb.”

The resurgent 2019 season included a 15-game winning streak to start the season. Tennessee was ranked in the top 25 for 10 weeks and won nine games against ranked teams — its most since 2014. In Vitello’s two seasons, the Vols have won 16 games against ranked teams.

Tennessee finished second in the nation this year with 10 shutouts. The Vols also finished among the nation’s leaders in strikeout-to-walk ratio (ninth), WHIP (10th), walks allowed per nine innings (14th), ERA (19th) and fielding percentage (14th).

The Vols’ .979 fielding percentage was the best in program history.

The offense stood out, too. Tennessee’s 378 runs, 173 extra-base hits, 53 home runs and .407 slugging percentage were their best marks since 2010. THe Vols led the SEC with 108 stolen bases. They were led by Jay Charleston, who swiped 41 bags to become the first SEC player to steal more than 40 bases in one since Tennessee’s Chris Burke and Steve Daniel did it in 2001.

Seven players have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft in the last two years, including six this year. Andre Lipcius (third round), Garrett Stallings (fifth round), Andrew Schultz (sixth round) and Zach Lingenfelter (ninth round) all were picked in the first 10 rounds.

This account is used by The Daily Times freelance sports writers and for staff reports.

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