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What Tony Vitello Said After Tennessee Took Series Finale Over Florida

Tony Vitello at the NCAA Clemson Regional. Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball clinched its seventh straight series on Saturday night by run-ruling Florida 16-3 in seven innings in Gainesville.

The Vols trailed through five innings before exploding for an incredible 11 runs in the sixth inning. Following the win, Tennessee coach Tony Vitello talked the offensive explosion, Hunter Ensley’s career game and much more. Here’s what Vitello said.

More From RTI: Everything To Know About Tennessee Baseball’s Game Three Win Over Florida

On winning game three and taking the series

“It’s massive. You’re so close to achieving really what’s a miraculous day if you can win a doubleheader on the road anywhere in the league but in particular against these guys and they showcased some fantastic arms and you know you might be seeing Cags (Jac Caglianone) on the mound, potentially, today and we came up short. So the way the guys bounced back in general with the start of the game was great then we had some frustration early in the game and kept forging ahead after maybe a bit of a timeout from where we needed to be mentally but, again, I’ve said it to you guys before— I think it’s a stronger group, a tougher group is the right word, than we originally thought and they keep kind of pushing that line which has been fun to watch.”

On the 11-run six inning

“I don’t know but I think we see their starter, he’s up to 98, 99 mph and holding that velocity through entire games. Up to 100 pitches, at least in the past. For him to go to the changeup the way he was, it took some adjustment out of our guys. The one thing they kept saying was let’s just get to him enough to where we can get to the bullpen and see what we can do. Maybe that thought process had something to do with it but really it just started with a couple good swings and if you look at what we’ve done the last couple weeks it hasn’t been spread as evenly as we want but it’s kind of been explosive and a few games of frustration so maybe it all kind of boiled over a little bit and I think some guys were able to relax and just play.”

On pinch-hitting Robin Villeneuve for Colby Backus after one at-bat

“Big moment and I think Colby is set to do damage against the fastball. We were taking our best guess at who could do something with that changeup against (Jac Caglianone) and I don’t know that anybody did. It was a pretty dang good. When it was in the zone, he got some guys to change. So Robin is really good at staying inside of the ball and using the entire park. So we kind of went with our gut and I think the good thing out of it was, it was an at-bat where there was some battle to it. We were kind of letting him off the hook a little bit too easy. It’s one thing if you make an out, but he was rolling through the lineup there for a while with a really low pitch count and we eventually started to battle.

“It was his (Backus) first SEC start. It’s frustrating for me and for him that he comes out earlier than he wanted, but we’re trying to find answers right away. It boils down to — and with Zander (Sechrist) too — it’s day three and we don’t want to leave any stone unturned. Maybe we unturned the wrong one, but at least we’re going to give it a go. But the one cool thing is that everybody in this dugout is pulling for one another and both those guys will have their chances coming up this week.”

On Nate Snead’s outing

“Yeah, at Kentucky, you got one of the best lineups in the entire country and Zander gives you three innings and goes through the lineup a little more than once through, so on the road, that’s a great outing for us out of him. I know he’d like to go more. He’ll get his chance again, but we went through the lineup a little quick. Kind of coming back around the bend to a couple of guys that we like the matchup with Snead, so we pulled the trigger — who knows — maybe too early or maybe right on time. But the bottom line is Zander did what he needed to do to keep things under control to start. There was some frustration there. And then Nate was just outstanding. Couple of moments where a couple of hits are given up, or whatever to where he’s not rolling, and then he gets right back on track. It was good to see him do that.”

On Hunter Ensley’s career day

“Just the way he competes. He will fight. Coach A [Frank Anderson] said it the other day when we were talking about different guys in the lineup. Obviously, he plays a tremendous centerfield for us. He is a really good base runner. He had a base running play at second base that was very underrated. If you were watching, he did ti to a T. It was important in the situation. You know you going to get all those things. When he hits, it’s icing on the cake. He’s hit in some big, big moments – whether it be in Omaha last year, our opening game there, or other SEC games. I mentioned then Kentucky series. HE will give you that, too. Regardless, you know you’re going to bet some fight out of him. He represents the program very well and that’s what we want from all of our guys.”

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