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What Tony Vitello Said After Tennessee Baseball Dropped Series Opener At Kentucky

Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball dropped its series opener 5-3 at Kentucky on Friday night, ending a six-game winning streak for the Vols.

The Vols rode a strong AJ Causey performance on the mound into the seventh inning when a few defensive miscues led to a three-run inning for Kentucky.

Following the loss, Tennessee coach Tony Vitello discussed what went wrong in the seventh inning, the quiet night for the offense and more. Here’s everything Vitello said.

More From RTI: Everything To Know About Tennessee’s Series Opening Loss At Kentucky

On the two errors in the seventh inning that allowed Kentucky to score the three runs that proved to be the difference in the game

“It was a back-and-forth game. I don’t really feel like anything came apart. We just didn’t play well enough to win a game. We had a chance to throw out a runner — (Kentucky catcher Devin) Burkes is not 100 percent on the base paths, so if we just play catch right there, we’ve got a chance to throw the guy out. I think that was a source of extra frustration. But otherwise, they put together a rally and ultimately put together — their big inning was three (runs) and ours was two, and you know, obviously it was 5-3, but to me, that was kind of the difference.”

On what was different about AJ Causey in the seventh inning compared to the previous innings

“I think they were just able to do something against them. I mean, to talk about the catcher (Burkes) again. That at-bat wasn’t very good. I believe we walked him on four pitches (five pitches). Other than that, he let a ball get away. It was a hit by pitch, but they had taken some good swings off of him at times and had a little bit of action on the bases with some base hits, but he was so competitive out there and so good he was able to put out the fire. He did his job. Got the two outs. You never know what’s going to happen if he faces (Emilien) Pitre, but to me, he was really good the whole night. But the one at-bat that if he could turn back in time, I’m speaking for him, but to not have a four-pitch non-competitive at-bat.”

On pulling Chris Stamos after just eight pitches in the first inning

“Just gut and treating the first inning like it’s the fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth was really about it. Nothing crazy beforehand or after. We had Stam available on Sunday last weekend and now he’ll be available not just on Sunday, but on Saturday, so he’s done a good job for us just accepting the role of what we’ve given to him the last two weeks and obviously last week goes better. This one doesn’t go that great, but there was a zero in the first inning and ugly, pretty, it doesn’t matter. That’s at the end of the day, what you’re looking for on defense.”

On what he saw from the offense

“Pretty good early on as far as just the competitiveness, kind of having somewhat of a plan up at the plate, but their guy is good for a reason. I think we pushed more across then he’s given up in the SEC run wise. Maybe three for us and two for the opponents. Maybe a little bit quicker to adjust to some things we were talking about in the dugout either as coaches or players so some good and some bad and then as the game goes on and things get fired up we seem to have a knack for playing in front of big groups like this. The crowd gets excited or there’s a little more adrenaline in the air. I think the offense, and anyone involved, needs to be able to calm themselves a little bit.”

On the excitement of being able to turn to Drew Beam on Saturday

“That helps but it’s kind of like that ever since Drew was a freshman whether it was Saturday, Sunday, whatever day we’re pitching him. I think it’s more about excitement to get back to the park and last year we joke, it’s not complaining, last time we were here I should say— it was just kind of chaos. There were some things that went on with our travel, the weather was abysmal. We didn’t play very well and everything else has kind of been the opposite here. Nice day, good crowd, competitive ball and guys should be excited to come to the park no matter who is pitching.”

On if AJ Causey is back to what he was earlier in the season

“Yeah and I don’t think it necessarily left. If you dissect those games or break them down, what happen was a couple mistakes kind of snowballed on him a little bit. It takes composure in this league because there’s probably usually a pretty big crowd. There’s big circumstances or a lot talked about leading into the series and then there’s probably somebody explosive waiting to come to bat if you do make a mistake so I think it’s just a lesson learned of how important his composure and bulldog mentality helps him and he needs to maintain it no matter what’s going on around him.”

On going to Nate Snead in the seventh inning jam

“He’s been great for us. I thought, in particular, he’s done well in some situations so really it is kind of interesting. The outcome of the at-bat is the exact same as Causey’s last time facing Pitre. We just don’t make a play and to our third baseman’s defense he’s getting 75 different hand signals and directions and things like that. I don’t know if he got caught in between on that deal right there but Snead has done pretty well for us.”

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