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Everything Tony Vitello Said After Tennessee Swept Mississippi State

(Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

Tennessee baseball completed the weekend sweep of Mississippi State Saturday afternoon run-ruling the Bulldogs 13-2.

The Vols scored nine runs in the first two innings thanks to a trio of three-run homers while Drew Beam was in cruise control on the mound.

Tennessee coach Tony Vitello talked Beam’s consecutive strong starts, the Vols’ six straight SEC wins and much more.

More From RTI: Everything To Know About Tennessee’s Run-Rule Win Over Mississippi State

On if he can take a moment to appreciate being over .500 in SEC play

“Not really. I think what you want to do is take a moment to recognize the SEC schedule is a grind but sometimes when you get pushed up to the Thursday through Saturday series it allows for a more relaxed Sunday with family, friends, girlfriends, whoever it might be. It’ll be good for our guys. Do(llander) wasn’t the only one that was sick this week. While we are playing good ball it would be well served to get a little bit of relaxation, rest up and also hit the final couple weeks of academics with a full head of steam and we’ve got a challenging week ahead of us. Obviously going on the road but well before that it’ll be playing Wofford and they’re having a middle of the weekend so I don’t know how they’re doing now but they have the No. 1 team in the country at throwing strikes with their pitching staff so rest up and get right back to it.”

On the importance of Christian Scott’s production at the plate

“It’s huge because he’s a big threat on the bases and also he’s a guy— not that they’re not rooting for others but we kind of touched on it last night. He’s been around a long time. He looks after the younger guys so guys really enjoy seeing him do well and it probably feeds him a little bit so for him to give us a little production and we’ve moved some guys around a little bit and have a little bit of stability in our lineup and there’s a lot of depth to it compared to what we had going on earlier this year. But I think the biggest benefit we have on is he’s a pain in the butt at the plate. That was something that was a staple of ours dating back to two years ago. Guys like Connor Pavolony — who’s capable of sitting in the four-hole or other places in the lineup. He’d be down there at the bottom and even if you got him out it was an absolute headache. When you have to do that over-and-over-and-over again as a pitcher or as a pitching coach you’re looking to address things it turns into a bigger headache.”

On what a weekend like this does for Christian Moore

“It’s huge because I’m a big believer in law of percentages. You can’t go five-for-five every day but he’s only going to stay down so long and the percentages will equal out in his favor and show that he’s a really good player but not until you let it happen. I was a terrible example of getting in my own way (as a player). I don’t know that he necessarily did that but sometimes these kids get frustrated and let it spiral into something more than it really is. Sometimes it ain’t your swing, you swung at a bad pitch and I’m not talking about him or you didn’t get any hits but the centerfielder made a diving catch so this is the time of year— our next game we play will be May. As a team you want to march into May and we did that as a group and he certainly did that as a player now and probably the most positive thing about today— I don’t know if he brought it up— there’s some frustration. You have arguably the most dangerous hitter in the SEC and Drew makes a good pitch and we just don’t make the play at second. That’s incentive for the average person to be down on themselves, beat up, and he did the absolute best thing. He was frustrated as he should be and then he set it aside and then after that he was arguably one of the best players if not the best player on the field.”

On if these past two weekends are Tennessee’s best baseball

“If you’re just going to go off the scoreboard, I think Robin Ventura with Team USA, I think he went 4-4 once with two grand slams, so it’s not like you should retire, well maybe he should’ve because Nolan Ryan took it out of him pretty good, but it’s not like you should retire because you can’t do any better than that. So, the results will fluctuate a little bit. There’s challenges ahead of us, but I do think we have a picture of what it looks like when we show up to the park with our right approach or best attitude, where guys need to be is getting closer but not a finished product. And like I said, marching towards May, I think we got good ball ahead of us, we just need to keep playing baseball and not complicate things.”

On Drew Beam having back-to-back great outings after a poor performance at Arkansas

“It kind of epitomizes who he is. You don’t want to get complacent or cocky either, but you kind of expect things. Again, he’s very consistent for us, so the fluctuation… it’s not going to be a roller coaster even though it wasn’t right for him that day. To me, at this point now that it’s over with, you see it as a positive and you put it in your back pocket and know that it’s behind you. And again, he was really good today, but I think he’s a guy, as he marches on, he’s constantly working on things and he’ll consistently improve and let the scoreboard take care of itself.”

On what Hunter Ensley brings to the table offensively and defensively

“I think personality is the big one. I don’t know why, but he finally started to be himself. He comes from a great household, and he’s almost overly respectful to me and the other people around him, and now he’s much more loose and kind of acts like the guys we have had in the program before––Fergy (Max Ferguson) and things like that––and not afraid to laugh or crack a joke or make fun of me or whatever it is. So, that’s the big one. He’s added to that personality pot we got going on right now. But also toughness. I’ve said it a million times, but I see a lot of value in it. He’s not afraid to compete in any situation, including running into a wall or taking charge on a play or whatever it is. And you guys know from me, I said we needed to be tougher earlier in the year. And one of the ways we got tougher was by having him more involved.”

On who else is in that ‘personality pot’

“Oh gosh, there’s a lot going on to my right that I’m distracted from the field. But, I think it’s a lot of them. You can only have so many spots in there, and Kirby all the way down there at the end, you know he’s doing his thing, and then there’s a lot of stuff that goes on in between. I think Tom Wilcox had kind of become the commissioner of that area, including his t-shirt yesterday. I don’t want to know what’s going on there. But around me, KT (Kavares Tears), even though he’s injured, and Blake Burke, they’re sitting right there, they’re involved in the game, Maui [Ahuna] is having conversations with Frank [Anderson]. So, to me, it’s a good sign that it’s going from the bookends of the dugout all the way to the middle, and everybody is contributing.”

On how he’s seen the team come together

“You look at the way they’ve come together the last couple of weeks, it’s been fun to see how they feed off of each other, they pick each other up, and it takes some time. If you’re in a new relationship, which obviously, I am no expert, you got to navigate through some waters and figure out some give and take, and what’s this guy like, and what is he like, and how can this guy help me, and as they slowly move forward each day, you can see it growing in a lot of different areas. It’s been fun to see them come together.”

On what gave him confidence that Christian Scott would play as well as he has

“It’s quirky. If you look at it, there was an ankle injury, certainly a talented lineup, some other bad breaks he’s had along the way, but throughout his career if you count high school, he’s always been a good hitter. Then, this summer, he kind of went on a mission to make some subtle adjustments in his swing and be prepared offensively. Then, areas of his game like bunting, he was just persistent to make it a strong quality. That drive to keep going when he wasn’t given the incentive all the time. It’s no coincidence he’s close friends with Trey Lipscomb, who all you guys talked about was, ‘well, why wouldn’t this guy just transfer out if he’s not starting and he’s good and things like that.’ Well, one of the reasons why Trey became an everyday starter and became arguably the SEC Player of the Year was because he just kind of had that push forward. Keep going, keep going, keep going and Christian Scott has the same thing.”

On how important it was for Scott to have success on the field to help him feel more comfortable as a leader

“I think a little bit and it not so much more that now he’s got the right to do it. It relaxed him and allowed him to be himself. Rather than we mentioned yesterday, trying too hard to go outside it. I hope it’s completely behind us, but each day presents itself, there’s new challenges. This group had to cut out trying to do stuff that they’re not or everything you can throw under that umbrella. I think it allowed him to be true to who he is.” 

On Cal Stark’s performance at catcher of late

“A lot of energy, a lot of will to win. A little bit of glue to what’s going between our coaching staff and what’s going on out on the field, which is what you want you want out of a catcher. The other guys do it well, too, but he’s brought his own unique flavor. Maybe it was because it was his first year or he was waiting to have success, but that personality and that drive kind of bubbles over when you’re in here in the cages these days. I don’t know that it was like that in the fall. I think we might have even teased him about that in some instances. Who he is, is a really good player. He’s a grinder which is required for that position and then he’s kind of like the Blake Burke guy or Luc Lipcius. He plays the game like a little leaguer and it’s fun to watch even in intense situations.”

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