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Everything Tennessee HC Tony Vitello Said After Game Two Loss Against Evansville

Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball dropped game two of its super regional series against Evansville 10-8 on Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Vols led 4-0 early before Evansville scored 10 runs in the middle innings before Tennessee’s ninth inning rally came up just short.

Following the game, Tennessee coach Tony Vitello discussed what went wrong in the middle innings, the ninth inning rally and much more. Here’s everything Vitello said.

More From RTI: How Evansville Defeated Tennessee In Game Two Of The Knoxville Super Regional

Opening statement

“You’re in a — obviously it’s a little different weekend — but we kind say it in our conference, you’re in a three-round bout and you’re gonna have to take blows and give blows. Obviously we were fortunate yesterday, but today they delivered a couple more blows than we did and and thrilling for the fans that we’re one away from being in a really good position, but it didn’t happen that way, so we’ll roll into Sunday, which is always an important day and be one to one and get after it.”

On what he feels like changed after the first three innings:

“I don’t think anything drastically changed. I mean, they got a good lineup and they’re certainly gonna compete. At no point are they ever gonna go away easy. So they were able to put some things together and you go back and anytime you make decisions with pitching, if you get some zeros or ones out of the deal, then it went well and maybe you made some accurate decisions and if it doesn’t, then maybe we could have made some better decisions in those situations.”

On how much he believes playing in so many rubber games during the season will help them on Sunday

“I think it’s a benefit. I mean you got the series on the line is what you got and you know, it helps to have a vision of what it looks like and it helps to have reps. You can pick any sport you want, but you want as many repetitions as possible. And the one thing about practice is it’s tough to put yourself in a practice or training situation where you can replicate things like today or things like tomorrow or other opportunities we’ve had on gameday that you talk about. So no question it’s a benefit.”

On what went wrong for Drew Beam

“From my perspective it was, you know, very sharp early on. I think the biggest thing, you know, a couple times trying to be careful with guys and it gets sideways, whether it be with a base open or a particular situation and I can’t speak for Drew, but that’s the only thing that really stood out to me.”

On the offense was trying too hard to hit home runs in the middle innings of the ballgame

“They switched pitchers and it took us a minute to adjust to making a guy get in the zone and then also the tempo of what he had going on. So, if anything, you’d like to look back and maybe adjust a little quicker, have a plan immediately who you’re facing. But other than that, I don’t think there was anything to detract from that. You’ll take runs anyway you can get them, but you know, it’d be nice if there’s some guys on base when you hit homers. It’s the first inning and it went down the way it did – kind of a unique situation.”

On the difference in the offense from the seventh and eighth innings compared to the ninth

“I think forcing the pitching into the strike zone a hundred percent, was a big difference. And then a little bit of adjusting, where you’re trying to strike the ball above, below, whatever it might be. But I think the biggest thing was command in the strike zone as best as you can at the plate.”

On how Zander Sechrist’s leg is feeling, pitching plan for tomorrow

“Yeah, he’s good. I mean he obviously took that shot was pretty good and was bruised the next day, but it was kind of, you know, that Monday it was all laughs at least. I don’t think it was laughs for him when it occurred and I’m sure it stiffened up at some point, but that’s kind of been a non-issue for the week and that’s our guy in the locker room. It’s our guy on the field so he’s got the ball and we’ll worry about the rest later, but I don’t think we’ve done anything to gas anybody out this particular weekend.”

On the ninth inning rally giving Tennessee momentum, making Evansville use Shane Harris

“I mean you’ll take a win anytime you can get it, so I’m sure they’re elated on their side, but it helped more than our guys— our guys are too young and they’re too competitive and they’re upset right now that they get left on deck or they could have made some damage, but when it is a true three round bout or a true series in the SEC, every little thing counts. And fortunately this year we had benefited from it, but there’s also some series where we made it tougher on ourselves or not able to come up because of different pitches or innings that are involved in that. 

They all have weight to them. Obviously the game ended in the ninth inning, but I think it helped more than our players would even know.”

On if he thought there was too much tension in the dugout when they fell behind

“Not for us. I mean I think frustration at certain points. You want to be winning the game and there’s kind of a flow to it but you’re out there during BP. I mean to me both times they’ve showed up to the park loose anytime I’ve seen them on video and then I think that’s kind of a unique thing about our group is they play with a lot of intensity but for the most part are mature enough to manage that and stay loose. So each game’s got its own flow to it and there’s ups and downs throughout the course of the game, but if anything I’m trying to follow these guys lead as opposed to direct them. That’s kind of how this year’s gone, fortunately.”

On if tomorrow’s game weighs more on them to avoid another ‘unsuccessful season’

“No, I mean there’s no way it’s not a successful season, and basically the way the numbers go is we don’t need to worry about anything other than tomorrow. But the numbers go, you want to play at home. You’d like to be playing, first of all, at a regional, and then if you can, if you’re fortunate enough to get to a super regional, then it’s a race to two wins and that’s really all it is. And, if you’re bored and you’re on your phone too long or you get involved in social media chats, which will be up for you all, not our players, you could paint all kinds of different pictures tomorrow.  But really what it is, we’re fortunate to host Evansville, one of the best teams in the country, and we’re trying to win the series tomorrow.”

On how much momentum is in the team’s control or if it’s up to chance

“I don’t think much is up to chance. I mean the old, ‘You make your own breaks,’ but I think what’s important is for guys to look to the guy next to him, right or left, front to back, whatever it might be, and understand that you got to play for that guy. It’s very easy when stakes are “high” or there’s emotions going on or our fans are standing on their feet to reflect inwardly and kind of worry about what you got going on yourself. The best way to be a good teammate and play a team sport is to have that energy go outward and make sure you’re looking after your guy, whether it be Cal [Stark] looking after Blake [Burke] or vice versa because Blake knows Cal’s got his back. And so that’s what I think you can control, and the results may go up and down, but when you have a group of guys who do that, then it makes it a fun environment, and it also makes it an environment where you more than slightly put the percentages in your favor.”

On Christian Moore’s status and if he can play second base in game three

“He’ll play second base tomorrow and yeah, his leg was sore. It was a little iffy and that was the decision. That was a hundred percent the way to go today. And the decision tomorrow will be playing second base. That’ll be a hundred percent the way we go.”

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