CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WATE) – Tennessee has taken the series thanks to a complete game effort from Vols junior pitcher Garrett Stallings and what an effort it was by the right-hander.
He’s the ace that’s helped carry Tennessee into the postseason.
They shutout Ole Miss on a 4-hitter by the big fella.
With eight wins and four losses, no one has provided more value on the mound than Garrett Stallings this season. He’s racked up over 100 strikeouts and is looking to add to it when he makes his NCAA Tournament debut in Chapel Hill.
“I’m ready. I think it’s going to be fun and it’s somewhere that I’m excited for and I think the whole team is ready.”
After throwing his second complete game shutout of the season against Ole Miss earlier this month, Stallings had four days of rest before he made his first and only start at the SEC Tournament. After nine days to catch his breath, the Virginia native says the first round loss to Auburn could come back to benefit the Vols and his arm.
“I think it was important for us. It was kind of a bummer losing the tournament but at the end it was kind of a blessing too. We got to get back on our feet, get healthy again and start preparing for our next game and it’s not always the worst thing when you lose that and you can start preparing for a regional.”
Stallings entered his junior year with a new perspective on life, a result of traveling to Ecuador as part of the VOLeaders program. Over a dozen Tennessee student athletes spent time with underprivileged children and disabled athletes.
Less than a year after making that trip, Stallings is the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and has helped Tennessee lead all of college baseball with 10 shutouts. Now, he’d like to add a postseason win to his resume.
“It’s going to be a fun experience. The SEC is one of the best conferences in the country if not the best and I think it’s going to be very exciting to play another team that’s not in that conference and hopefully we can meet up with another team from our own conference.”
Stallings is up to 103 strikeouts this season. He had a combined 76 coming into this season.
He’s the main reason why Tennessee’s pitching staff has struck out 500-plus batters this for the first time since 2005.