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What Tony Vitello Said About Tennessee’s Series Opening Win At South Carolina

Photo via Arkansas Athletics

Tennessee baseball took its series opener at South Carolina Friday night using a dominant Andrew Lindsey outing to defeat the Gamecocks 5-0.

Lindsey posted the best outing of any Tennessee pitcher this season with 8.1 scoreless innings while outfielders Dylan Dreiling and Hunter Ensley came through at the plate for Tennessee.

Tennessee coach Tony Vitello talked Lindsey’s outing, the outfield play and much more.

More From RTI: Everything To Know About Tennessee’s Series Opening Win Over South Carolina

On how nervous he was to pull Andrew Lindsey in the ninth

“Yeah, I didn’t want to get punched. It was a more of a thought process and Frank (Anderson) removed himself from the equation and all he was doing was making jokes or making fun of me. It turned into a good situation. A comical situation. 

“But really if you want to break it down. It’s a guy that is an ultimate competitor and he wants to be on the field. He even admitted to me that he was going on fumes there for the last couple of innings. Command, maybe backed up a little bit. Maybe they took some of their better swings at the end. But he still had good stuff. Ball was still moving. Cal Stark even said he needs to go back out there for the ninth. So a lot of good things out of Andrew Lindsey since we’ve given him the ball in a starting role. But I think now he can officially feel like he’s built his arm up, built up repetitions and so there’s nothing really holding him back. So, more of the same and he’s getting stronger as the season goes.”

On what made Lindsey so effective

“I think it’s a different look. Almost with every pitch he throws, there’s not a lot of similarities even if you’re going to go the same type of pitch. He’s just one of those guys where it’s not the same type of look. He was after the strike zone and had some defensive behind him a little bit. So, the whole thing worked out to our benefit and our offense did a good job. I mean, that ain’t easy sitting around the hotel and doing nothing. I mean, our guys have had some crazy scheduling stuff since the start of the year and I thought they handled it really well. They came out really loose but focused, and the fact that he was able to pitch with a lead I thought was a benefit as well.”

On how Lindsey has changed the dynamic of the staff since Vitello changed up the pitching rotation

“I think he’s relieved pressure on everybody. So much pressure coming from so many different angles. When we had that talk in the office with a few guys, where it was a little bit of reset, I think it allowed everybody to take a deep breath. It was almost like a timeout or a halftime, and let’s look forward to the second half of the season and what I can do. It’s simplified a lot of guy’s tasks. It’s relieved a lot of pressure and it’s understood now what your role is. That brings comfort to them when they show up to the park.”

On if the outfield’s big night represents their growth over the course of the season

“No doubt. And C-Scott is an older guy but we go off of, when we look at lineups we’re playing or our lineup you look at at-bats. He hasn’t accumulated as many at-bats as some guys in this league. He’s seen a lot but he needed to get out there and play and be an everyday guy and experience the things that come with that. Not just physically but mentally. Now all three of those guys that were out there today need— Dylan is still a little lower on them being a freshman and not as many starts defensively but Dickey being out meant he got an opportunity and he took advantage of it. It allows Griffin to do his thing too in that spot. He took some of the best swings I’ve seen him take in that spot all year, tonight even though it wasn’t his most explosive night. Good stuff from all of the outfielders including Griff.”

On the ball finding Dylan Dreiling right away in left field

“That is not an easy play. This is a great venue just like a lot of them in the league and they show out. Our fans show out here. The last trip it was incredible how many people we had here and it looks like a good group this year too so we appreciate that. But if you play left field here and you’re not wearing South Carolina colors they’re going to let you know some stuff. So the fact that he made that play off the bat was big time.”

On how impressive Hunter Ensley’s clutch hitting was

“I think the fact he’s in there and just competing and trying to push forward in the inning is what makes him effective but what he did was huge tonight. The guys in the dugout were even saying it and kind of complimenting him in a bunch of different ways but I think he kind of has that mentality of this is who I am, take it or leave it and whatever situation it is, I’m going to try and keep pushing forward or moving forward in this particular inning. When guys do that it really kind of simplifies it getting back to that word. It makes it more simple for them. You know, maybe he’s a simpleton.” 

On how frustrating the weather delays were the last two days

“I think it’s the same for both teams. It’s the end of the year and it’s that time of the year when you want to play. You want to play your best ball but it’s also end of the year and tournament time and weather time. You just kind of play when they say you can play and sometimes it might be two (a) days, it’s not like little leaguers where you might have three games in one day, I don’t think but kind of like our team did last year in Hoover you just wait for your assignment and when you get it you attack it and when not you have to chill out or else you’ll stress yourself out.”

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