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What Knoxville Regional Participants Said About Tennessee

Tennessee swept through the Knoxville Regional for the second straight season, earning a berth in the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Vols beat all three teams in the Knoxville Regional, blowing out Alabama State before earning come from behind wins over Campbell and Georgia Tech.

Here’s what Alabama State, Campbell and Georgia Tech coaches and players said about No. 1 Tennessee.

Alabama State Head Coach Jose’ Vazquez

On What Blade Tidwell Did Well On The Mound

“His ability to throw more than one pitch for a strike. If he’s not a first rounder, I don’t know what it would take to be a first rounder. You’re talking about a guy who throws 95 to 98 miles per hour and has a three-pitch mix. Watching professional baseball, there are some guys in the big leagues who aren’t as good as what he was today. I was very impressed. Obviously, the fastball has a lot to do with it, but the ability to throw the changeup and the breaking ball for a strike is really what made him so effective tonight.”

On The Opportunity Of Playing No. 1 Tennessee

“If you ask me, I don’t personally think we should have been here, as far as coming to this regional. Based on how it played out, I think we should have been playing a lower national seed. It is what it is. It’s a challenge. To answer your question, we are playing the No. 1 team in the nation. It was a tough task to come in here with a hostile environment and full house. What does it mean for our guys? For the younger guys, this is an experience that they can take and hopefully build on that and be at this stage next year if we take care of what we need to in conference play.”

Campbell Head Coach Justin Haire

On Campbell’s Effectiveness Against Chase Dollander

“Chase Dollander is very good. The numbers are Nintendo numbers. I think our guys just settled in. We had a really good plan. I obviously haven’t seen the video. From the third base box, I don’t know if it was missing over the middle or what the situation was, but we were able to take some of those borderline pitches and some of the marginal pitches that maybe he’s gotten some swings and misses off of in some other games and maybe forced him back over the plate a little bit. When we were able to do that, I think we were able to catch some barrels and put some pressure on him that way.”

On If You Have To Play A Perfect Game Against Tennessee

“I think any time you face offenses that are at that elite level, Georgia Tech is in that same realm, I think there have been plenty of times that we’ve taken advantage of other mistakes and extra outs. Any time that you face an elite level team, you have to play your best. Honestly, in college baseball right now, Tennessee’s staff may say different, but you can lose to anybody on any given day. You can’t just go out and out-talent people. You have to out-perform them and play at or near your best, day in and day out to give yourself an opportunity to win. That’s how good college baseball is right now. It’s fun, but there is that constant pressure. I think in our program, we talk about pressure being a privilege. If we weren’t good enough, we wouldn’t be in this Regional. We wouldn’t be playing in front of 4,400 fans. Pressure is a privilege and we want to run toward that pressure. We don’t want to run from it. We want to enjoy that, embrace it and fight through the struggle of it.”

Campbell Shortstop Zach Neto

On Kirby Connell

“He was just getting us off our timing. He settled into a nice groove and we fell right into it. We started figuring it out and starting slowing down, playing our game of baseball. Once we got him out of the game, we knew that we just needed to keep digging into the bullpen and we made things happen. It didn’t go our way at the end of the day, but we just kept fighting like we always do. We’re going to see them tomorrow.”

Georgia Tech Head Coach Danny Hall

On Tennessee Not Hitting A Home Run

“That was really the plan. We felt like it was Maxwell and Dawson Brown. Dawson Brown throws a lot of sinkers and gets a lot of ground balls. He got some big double play balls early. Then we just kept hoping one of those guys would get it at somebody, and we would get a double play and get out of that jam. They found holes. A couple of them went in the six hole. The ball (Jordan) Beck hit—I don’t know what the exit velocity was—they found a way. That’s the bottom line. They found a way to get it done tonight.”

On If Georgia Tech Missed Opportunities

“Yeah maybe a little bit, but maybe the hero of the game for them was Will Mabrey. He pitched outstanding. We didn’t get any runs off of him, he gave up five hits, no runs. He did what they put him in to do—he settled the game. Yeah, we probably had a few chances there when they got the two runs—which we misplayed a ball on a chopper—it’s not an easy play, but one that you’d like to see your team make. We just couldn’t get an out and they ended up scoring two and getting back in it. They’re hard to beat and they’re good, so if you don’t do everything pretty crisp, you have a chance to get beat.”

On How Small The Margin For Error Against Tennessee Is

“I would say it like this—you look around college baseball right now and look at the scores of some of these regionals, people are scoring 20 runs left and right. The fact that Tennessee’s team ERA is where it’s at is really all you need to know. They have an outstanding pitching staff. I think that in general, they play really good defense. They probably would have liked to have played a little better tonight. Two kids came off the bench and got big hits in that ninth inning and they have some premier position players that play for them. I’ve seen enough on TV just watching games when we were done and they’re playing against teams in the SEC that I vote in the Coaches Poll and I’ve been voting Tennessee No. 1 for a long time, and nothing’s going to change my mind right now.”

Georgia Tech Catcher Kevin Parada

On Will Mabrey

“Mabrey threw multiple pitches for strikes, kept us off balance and mixed up his pitches really well. That was what was able to settle the game. Even when he gave up a hit or two, he was able to get out of those jams and that’s what really settled the game for them.”

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