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Everything Tennessee HC Tony Vitello Said After Vols Dropped Finale At Vanderbilt

Tony Vitello
Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello. Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics.

Vanderbilt was the first team to shut out Tennessee baseball all season on Sunday afternoon when the Commodores earned a 3-0 series salvaging victory against the Vols.

Following the loss, Tennessee coach Tony Vitello discussed what went wrong for the Vols’ lineup, the vibes after a series finale loss and much more. Here’s everything Vitello said.

More From RTI: What Went Wrong For Tennessee Baseball In Series Finale Loss At Vanderbilt

On if Nate Snead pitching yesterday limited him to 65 pitches today

“I think that was a little bit more than we wanted to so that’s why it occurred in a middle of an at-bat. We just didn’t want to rush Behnke so maybe on me a little bit. We definitely wanted him to go back out there and he got us a huge first out but even that was a little greedy. Yesterday wasn’t taxing but when he’s in there (the bullpen) he prepares like a maniac, when he’s out there (on the mound) he competes like a maniac so we’ve got more season left to play and that’s kind of how we wanted to work that deal.”

On what went wrong for Zander Sechrist

“They just had a good approach. He also missed in the middle of the plate several times. The angle (from the dugout) here is really tough. I know this park and our park are really hard to be an umpire because you can hear everything that’s being said from the dugouts and some things should be kept within the dugout. The angle is kind of weird because some pitches that I thought were this or that— you watch video and it’s the opposite. But as far as the feedback from our players including Cal (Stark), missed in the middle of the plate too much but they also had a clear cut approach against them that was good.”

On the vibe after winning a SEC road series but losing game three

“It depends on the team and it depends on where you’re at in the season which is an easy way out for me to answer. But it also is a fact that this is our first opportunity to go into day three 2-0 and our guys are so geared up and so repped out— however you want to say it. We’ve done 1-1 a lot and of course the Alabama series was frustrating where we didn’t take anything home with us that we wanted to. This one you’re sour about today and after you shower and take the bus trip home you have to turn the page to next week because boom you play Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. So you need to be ready to rock-and-roll there but at some point you also need to realize that we’re in a race with the other team and we’re trying to beat them to two wins and we were able to do that.”

On what was working well for Vanderbilt starter JD Thompson today

“Good spin on the breaking ball. Kind of started with good fastball command more than anything and then that led to guys chasing some off-speed. He got into a rhythm there in the third and fourth and then he was landing off-speed pitches to compliment it. It made it a good overall package. The command kind of faded the last couple of innings but was still able to work out of jams or get out of situations. Of course, the last one they go to the bullpen and get [Devin] Futrell and he did a great job.” 

On the lack of offense being more about Tennessee or Vanderbilt pitching

“Always a combination. Takes two to tango. Starter with good stuff. I don’t know how he threw last week or the week before, but better than he had thrown against Florida. Our guys, maybe a little less of this or that today. It’s kind of hard to tell. It’s not like they didn’t show up energized. There’s no over-celebrating or anything like that. They certainly wanted to win. You could sense that. I think a combination of both is always going to be the case, but it’s got to start with a guy that is throwing the ball well.”

On if the approach was the same or if it changed as the game went along

“I didn’t really sense the approach at the plate but the frustration in the dugout was a little too high. Of course, there’s hooting and hollering in the middle of the game. One thing we talked about earlier was when frustration creeps in , there’s a right way to handle it and a wrong way to handle it. I can’t speak for everybody because I can’t get inside their head, but obviously the scoreboard says there was at least a way to handle it a little bit better.”

On the at-bats in the fifth and seventh innings when Tennessee had two on and no outs

“It looked like you were about to get the ball rolling downhill and then it vanishes in those at-bats where we don’t get anything out of. Again, not wanting to bark at a guy for not getting a hit. I had many a days where I didn’t do that, but in order for it to be a productive offense, we got to get something out of it when you go into the box. Even if you swing at the first pitch, you’d like to at least make hard contact or have a good approach. That was frustrating and that led to all things halting. Kind of back to my point, the stuff has got to be good to begin with, but all that kind of halted with poor approaches in some of those at-bats.”

On how healthy the rivalry is

“It depends on which category you want to go to. You look at what Coach (Tim) Corbin has accomplished, plenty. So regardless of how each day goes, he’s going to be just fine. Their program is still the same program it’s been. We still feel like we’re trying to grow our stadium, our program, our approach, our recruiting. So we’re just pushing forward and as it relates to who you’re playing in the league, I just think it can be a little overrated at times because if you really want to break it down, you’re trying to keep bread on the table for everybody. But really at the same time, you’re trying to compete each weekend and survive, and I think what success is in our league maybe a little different because the competition level is so high, but for us, maybe it sounds bad, I still feel somewhat new to Tennessee. We’re just trying to push forward and make daily improvements.”

On if this weekend showed how valuable Nate Snead is out of the bullpen opposed to a starter

“Yeah, I think yesterday was a day where I said he was a swiss-army knife and he truly has been that for us. And Kirby (Connell) has kind of been Mr. Everything for us, too, but Nate has definitely been that and done that well for us, too. Coach Anderson, Frank, always seems to develop somebody that feels that role for us. Originally, you feel like that role might be (AJ) Causey, but Nate’s presence has improved daily and his willingness to attack the zone has been tremendous.”

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