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What Tennessee Players Said Following Season-Opening Win Over Texas Tech

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball third baseman Billy Amick and pitcher AJ Russell were two key contributors in the Vols’ 6-2 season-opening win over Texas Tech in Arlington on Friday night.

Amick went 2-4 at the plate with two RBI, one HR, one BB, and two runs scored. Amick’s home run started the scoring for the Volunteers in the fourth inning when his towering two-run shot scored catcher Cannon Peebles and himself.

Russell dominated for four of his 4.1 innings, retiring 12 of 13 batters and striking out 10 through four frames of work. Although he ran into trouble in the fifth inning, Russell’s strong season debut should give everyone confidence in Tennessee’s new Friday night arm.

Amick and Russell met with the media following the win. What they said to the media regarding their performances and the overall victory is below.

Billy Amick

On playing for Tennessee for the first time:

“I was super excited. We were well prepared. We were all looking forward to it – especially this game. It was a great atmosphere and a great stadium, so we had a lot of fun.

On first at-bat popping up and then rebounding with home run:

“Obviously, everybody makes mistakes and everyone misses stuff. It’s baseball. Was just trying to get our offense going and hit the ball hard to get the job done. That’s what we are all trying to do right now.”

On AJ Causey:

“He looked great. Obviously, he did really well. It was great to play behind him and AJ Russell, both.”

On how AJ Russell’s pitching fired up the team:

“Yeah, it was great. Great momentum for sure. It’s great for us behind him because we can just encourage him with whatever he needs. We are there for him if he needs us [in the field] but obviously he didn’t need us tonight, which is great.”

More From RTI: Everything Tony Vitello Said After Tennessee Baseball Beat Texas Tech to Open the Season

AJ Russell

On the difference from last year to this year:

“I felt really good tonight. I think warmups and all that was good but it was a little rushed. I didn’t realize after the national anthem I would be pitching right away. I thought it went well. I think the biggest difference is overall strength and comfortability out there. It’s a little less nerve racking each time I get out there. I think that’s helped a lot.”

On what was working for him tonight:

“I think fastball was definitely the best pitch. I was kind of babying off-speed a little bit early. I don’t know if that was nerves or just wasn’t trusting it completely. Later in the game, I thought the slider and changeup got a little bit better. Fastball got a little bit worse, but overall, I thought altogether it was pretty good.”

On AJ Causey tonight:

“We have been joking on the side – because they had us throwing together in a scrimmage the other day – it’s the ‘AJ Show.’ We were messing with each other there. I thought he looked really good. The stuff was unreal. We have been talking about it – it’s unfair throwing 90-92, submarine with a changeup that looks the exact same. It’s not fair. I thought he looked good. First inning he was out he was throwing a lot of strikes and I thought as the game went on, he got even better.”

On difficulties for hitters dealing with both him and Causey back-to-back:

“I think it’s difference in fastballs. My fastball is more ride and a little bit run as well. His is a lot of sink. I’m more fastball-slider and he’s more fastball-changeup, so it’s kind of just different profiles. We don’t have the same arm slot, but I’m a little bit lower and he’s lower. The way the fastballs play – that’s what makes the biggest difference.”

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