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Everything Tony Vitello Said After Tennessee Baseball’s Series-Opening Loss to Georgia

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Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello. Photo by Rocky Top Insider/Ric Butler.

Tennessee baseball head coach Tony Vitello met with the media following the Vols’ 16-2 run-rule loss to Georgia in Friday night’s series opener.

Vitello shared his thoughts on the Vols’ loss, including what went wrong for RHP AJ Causey, what he wants to see from his team on Saturday and more.

See everything Vitello said following the game below.

On his message to the team after the game:

“Obviously, you have to turn the page and move on to tomorrow. It’s a three-round fight that you are in the middle of, and we certainly got a knockout-type blow tonight, and we have been on the other end of that deal, too, so there’s not a whole lot that we can do about it. You certainly would like to learn from a couple of mistakes, in particular, and maybe make sure that the whole group is on the same page with the type of focus that we need. But really, it’s all about coming back tomorrow with some pride on your home field.”

On what was different for AJ Causey this week:

“Couple breaks. Walks a batter and is showing signs of frustration, which usually he’s pretty consistent and kind of a model for our guys in terms of what body language and presence needs to be, and I can’t get inside of his head and have not’ asked him about it, but it looked like he was showing signs of frustration and then we don’t keep the ball in front, which is something we have either stressed or applauded our guys for doing, or even laughed about in the outfield for another reason, and we don’t do that, and now all of a sudden, you let the lid off for an explosive offense, and I’d like to think that ours is able to do some things, but then we could go down the list of every opponent in the SEC, and they’re all going to be explosive if you give them extra opportunities, and they did a good job of capitalizing on that.”

On how much confidence the team should have with Drew Beam starting game two:

“At the very least, they have to understand that he’s been in about every situation that a college pitcher can be in. He hasn’t pitched in a national championship series, but otherwise, the guy has literally pitched in every situation you could imagine, and countless times pitching on Sunday when the series is on the line. I think, too, it’s kind of like the guys picking up Causey when he comes out. You guys said it, he’s been a lot to this team. So has Drew [Beam]. To me, you’re judged not necessarily in one moment or based on one pitch or play, but your entire body of work. And again, one pitch or one play can say something about you or dictate who you are in certain cases, but for the most part, that guy, really both of those guys, will forever be judged, at least by the coaching staff, how they do things day in and day out. It’s super consistent, and it’s also a great example for everybody else that is a part of the team.”

More From RTI: Georgia Baseball Bashes Tennessee Baseball in Run-Rule Win to Open the Series

On how close Dalton Bargo is to 100%:

“I would probably say we need another weekend behind us where you can feel comfortable about him going out there and playing a position. He still hasn’t caught. That will happen at some point this year. I think he has put in a lot of work in the infield. I feel better about him being in the infield than trying to run down fly balls in the outfield. But, he’s at a point where if he is at second base and we don’t pinch-run for him, and he has to score on a base-hit, he can do that. It’s just kind of a comfort level to make sure we’re not going two steps forward, one step back.”

On the importance of starting strong on Saturday:

“I think it matters, but I think you sign up for a full day’s work. I stand by, and we’ll talk about it some other time, but I don’t necessarily agree with the [run] rule. It’s super weird, too, when you don’t know how many outs you need to cover, or who can pinch-hit when you don’t know how long the game is going to last. But the bottom line is, we got beat well enough to where we only played seven innings today. But, tomorrow when you show up here… I mean baseball players put in a lot of time. We’re here four hours before the game eating and prepping – they’re doing the same thing – and I fully expect a nine-inning ballgame, and who knows, it could be an extra-inning game, too. So, it would be great to start off well, but tonight started with the best weather we’ve had, the best crowd we’ve had, which they deserved better, and then a great first inning. A strong first inning by [AJ] Causey, and then we put two really good swings on balls, but we had nothing to show for it. To me, technically tonight’s start was great. The finish was not so great.”

On his team’s resiliency:

“They’ve shown toughness in a lot of different areas and they’ve certainly showed togetherness. When things done go well – in a case like tonight – you’ve got two options. You’re probably not staying the same. You can kind of get closer together or it can separate you a little bit. You can point a finger. What about coach doing this or this that and the other? Those things have been there for this team at the very least. Like I’ve said to you all, to me, some of those attributes have been even better than we thought they were. We will see how they are in the face of a challenge. The thing about his game is you have to show it day in and day out. I’m not knocking football because if I did, one of those guys could knock me out. It ain’t a week to prepare for the next opponent. It’s wake up tomorrow morning with a new task at hand and a good idea of how you want to accomplish that task.”

On Reese Chapman coming along and if we will see more of him with Billy Amick sidelined:

“Reese? Yeah, I think so. He actually worked at third base before but I don’t think has attacked it enough. That’s a topic down the line but I think he’s a guy who could turn himself into a pro prospect – not just as a right fielder but as a third baseman. But yeah, both of those guys are two of our best left-handed hitters. It’s kind of hard at this point to pin down who the best eight or nine guys are but it’s going to involve who is playing where and stuff like that too. If we are going to be successful, any one weekend SEC play – as long as both of those guys are healthy. We need them both involved.”

On one thing this teams needs to improve on:

“Keep the ball in front of you on defense would be one. Also, everyone hooked up the way we were when the day started. You have to stay that way. If you think you are going to just cruise along on the highway and you’re not going to hit a bump or a rock hit your windshield or somebody going to cut you off – or maybe even someone flips you the bird or something like that. Just like your morning commute. Everyone here has a morning drive that probably causes some irradiation. Tomorrow will be the exact same. I don’t care what the score is, I expect our guys to bounce back the same way. When that happens, we gotta keep on trucking.”

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