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What Tennessee Players Said After Vols Took The Series Opener At Vanderbilt

Kavares Tears celebrates stealing a base against Texas Tech // Photo via UT Athletics

Tennessee baseball took its series opener at Vanderbilt 8-4 on Friday evening as they improved to 18-7 in SEC play this season.

Vanderbilt took the lead with a three-run sixth inning before Tennessee scored five runs in the eighth inning to take the lead and secure the win.

Kavares Tears hit the go ahead home run to left field as part as of a one-of-four night with a walk. AJ Causey had a rocky sixth inning but was fantastic around that, allowing only those three runs while striking out seven batters in 6.1 innings pitched.

Here’s what both Tears and Causey said after the Vols took the series opener in Nashville.

More From RTI: Everything Tony Vitello Said After Tennessee Knocked Off Vanderbilt

Kavares Tears

On success vs. Vanderbilt the past two years

“I think it’s just the work everybody is putting in, including me. We go to the field in the fall ready to work and get after it in any way. It’s starting to show for all of us.”

On the at-bat with chin music and then home run

“Honestly, I felt like they were kind of setting that up for something. I kind of started to sit on slider and I wanted to sit with it. Not get too big and just try to put a good swing on it.”

On if he knew he had enough of it

“It might have been drilled in me maybe back in high school to not sit and pimp home runs, but my first instinct when I hit the ball was to try and get to two or try to get to three. Whatever the case may be.”

On when he knew it was gone

“Once it actually got out is when I started to slow down.”

On AJ Causey’s response after three-run sixth inning

“He is who he is. He is going to compete every single pitch regardless of what happened in the past or the pitch before. He’s able to get back on the mound and just treat it like a brand new pitch. Just get to the next one and keep on going.”

On what the eighth inning comeback said about the team

“That’s just team chemistry is kind of how I view it. We’re a very close knit group of guys that I’ve played with for a long time and no matter what the score is or if we’re behind we never feel like we’re out of the game until that last out is made in the ninth.”

On if there’s any more juice with the Vanderbilt series

“I mean, I guess you can say that but I think for everybody on the team we kind of just treat it like it is the SEC. We’re going to get every other team’s best every single time we step out onto the field so we just treat it like that and try to find every way to win the game.”

AJ Causey

On fighting frustration in the sixth inning

“You definitely have to fight it. It’s funny because I was actually talking to Dr. (Joe) Whitney, our mental coach about it, and it was actually the first time we talked about it was bringing yourself down. It was kind of cool to use that the first outing after we talked about it.”

On what was working for him during the outing

“Kind of everything. The sinker definitely. It felt really good and I felt like I had really good command of that.”

On Vitello putting him back out there after the rough sixth inning

“It honestly means a lot. It feels good that they trust me and left me in there. That I was able to finish.”

On what he thought about his first Tennessee-Vanderbilt game

“Definitely. It’s kind of cool, I guess the atmosphere and the want to win. Obviously it’s always there but the rivalry— it was cool.”

On what Chris Stamos did well to work out of the first inning

“Just about everything honestly. He was just making good pitches and getting guys out. It was cool to see.”

On how he would describe Cal Stark’s energy behind the plate

“Calm. Throwing to Cal is extremely calming. There is one where he called, I think, a sinker away and I was going to shake to a changeup or something and he was like ‘no, we’re throwing it.’ And I struck the guy out. It was calming.”

On if that’s different from his energy in the dugout

“It honestly is. He does a really good job of that where he is really energetic in the dugout but when he’s behind the plate— he might do it to the pitchers. Like some guys he might try to energize but with me he knows to kind of bring me down.”

On the challenge of putting the mental practice on the field, if it’s easier said than done


It’s kind of like a learned skill. Kind of like riding a bike. The more you do it the better you get at it.”

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