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HomeSports NewsMCWS 2024 in review: Tennessee's legacy, best moments and early 2025 predictions

MCWS 2024 in review: Tennessee’s legacy, best moments and early 2025 predictions


No. 1 Tennessee and No. 3 Texas A&M went toe-to-toe in the championship series, with the Vols ultimately being crowned champs after a 6-5 Game 3 win to cap off a 60-win season Monday in Omaha, Nebraska. But of course there was plenty of drama along the way in this year’s Men’s College World Series.

There were three walk-off wins to open the series and there was the first cycle hit since 1956, all of which culminated in the top-ranked team winning it all for the first time since 1999 and for the first time ever in its program history.

Our experts break down what this championship does for Tennessee’s legacy, recap their favorite moments of the MCWS and give some early 2025 predictions.

Jump to: Tennessee’s legacy | Getting back to Omaha
Favorite moments of 2024
Who’s making it next year? | Early POY picks

What does this MCWS championship do for Tennessee’s legacy?

Ryan McGee: For the Vols, it’s easy. Finally over the hump when, honestly, a lot of people had serious doubts about their ability to close the deal. And that wasn’t just a baseball thing. Hey, someone should write about that … oh, I did! As for A&M, it’s back to the grindstone. The bad news is it lost. The good news is that history says those who get close usually get back to Omaha hungrier, and quicker.

Chris Burke: The Vols can now enter the top of the field conversation in college baseball. This is the culmination of an incredibly successful four-year run that has seen the Vols make three trips to Omaha, win the SEC regular season and tournament title twice, and now the national championship. That kind of run is a pretty good indication that the Vols are here to stay at the top of the college baseball conversation.

Mike Rooney: From 2006 to 2018, Tennessee missed 13 consecutive NCAA baseball tournaments. In several of those seasons, the Vols failed to qualify for the SEC tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Those struggles explain some of the edge that fuels Tony Vitello’s teams. This program was sick of getting pushed around. The 2024 team put an exclamation point on a four-year run that felt impossible when Vitello was hired prior to the 2018 season. Over the past four seasons, no one in college baseball has been better than the Vols. And now there is a crown confirming that.

Can Texas A&M and Tennessee make it back next season?

McGee: Yes. If A&M can stealthily use the transfer portal like it did one year ago to land Braden Montgomery and Tennessee can build around the newly minted MCWS Most Outstanding Player Dylan Drieling, there’s no reason to believe they can’t. But it might be a little more difficult for A&M since Jim Schlossnagle is leaving to become the next head coach at Texas.

Burke: Getting back to the finals is a tall ask in today’s game. The number of teams that are investing and competing to win the whole thing has never been greater, and both teams are losing a lot of star power. With the commitment that these two schools have made to winning and the recruiting, I wouldn’t be shocked to see both teams back in the supers next year knocking on the MCWS door.

Rooney: Texas A&M felt like an easy inclusion for my 2025 “Eight for Omaha.” Center fielder Jace LaViolette will be a preseason All-American. Third baseman Gavin Grahovac is of a similar ilk. Grad transfer Wyatt Henseler (Penn) comes to College Station as the Ivy League’s all-time home run leader. The Aggie lineup should be ferocious. For Tennessee, there is a lot to replace. That said, Vitello may be the best recruiting head coach we have in college baseball. Shortstop Dean Curley should graduate to a spot in the middle of the order, and that is a good place to start.

What was your favorite moment of this year’s MCWS?

McGee: As a MCWS history junkie, it’s hard to top Christian Moore’s cycle. To me, one of the wildest stats in the Omaha record book was that there had only been one cycle, and it happened in 1956! But it was also the atmosphere around these finals. The lines of people waiting to take photos with the Road to Omaha statue was the longest I’ve ever seen, and the line for the standing room only ticket lottery was the longest I’ve seen since Charles Schwab Field opened.

Burke: Lot of great moments from Omaha this year, but I think what stands out the most is the way we started. Three walk-off victories in the first three games was the type of ball we can only dream about when the field was set. The drama and the clutch performances right from the jump set the stage for what ended up being one of the best MCWS ever!

Rooney: Dylan Dreiling’s walk-off double in Tennessee’s 12-11 win over Florida State put a capper on the best game of the 2024 Men’s College World Series. The Vols needed five runs in the final two frames to complete an electrifying comeback. And Dreiling was just getting started. The sophomore left-handed hitter homered in all three games of the finals on his way to earning MCWS Most Outstanding Player honors.

Which team that missed the 2024 MCWS field will make it next year?

McGee: Arkansas. I still have no idea how it wasn’t here this year.

Burke: I’ll say LSU. Jay Johnson has been crushing it in the portal so far. The Tigers played as many freshmen as anyone in the country this year, and as those pieces develop and mix with the portal additions, I would say the Tigers will be right back in the mix next year.

Rooney: The Clemson Tigers have hosted the single best game of the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons. Their epic 14-inning game versus Tennessee in the 2023 Clemson Regional ended in heartbreak. In 2024, the Tigers exorcised their recent postseason demons by winning their home regional with minimal stress. Unfortunately, Erik Bakich’s club lost another all-time thriller in its 13-inning super regional Game 2 vs. Florida. Center fielder Cam Cannarella put on a show in this one, and he’s returning for his junior year. Freshman Aidan Knaak was Clemson’s most consistent pitcher throughout this season, and he should lead the rotation once again in 2025.

Who’s your way-too-early pick for 2025 player of the year?

McGee: Jace LaViolette. If A&M is going to be back, he’ll be the reason. He just became only the third Aggie ever to hit 50 homers. He’s six shy of breaking the TAMU career homer record. And he’s a sophomore.

Burke: Hard to pick this one but I’ll go with one of the best freshman in the country from this past year. Justin Lebron, the shortstop from Alabama, had a breakout season in Year 1 and projects to be one of the best players in America over the next two years. As smooth as they come on defense and a body that looks like it will make a big jump physically, Lebron is one to watch heading into 2025.

Rooney: Oklahoma State left fielder Nolan Schubart offers a rare skill set. The 6-foot-5, 227-pound sophomore hits from the left side and he is a frightening combination of power and a pure hitter. Schubart enters his junior season as a career .352 hitter, and he has averaged 20 home runs and 71 RBIs per year through his first two seasons. A 30 home run season with 100 RBIs is a lofty achievement, but very much on the table for this uber-talented slugger.


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