Everything Tony Vitello said on a Tennessee win over Kentucky on Saturday

On3 imageby:Eric Cain04/20/24


Tennessee Baseball Tony Vitello Reacts To Win Over Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KY — Tennessee baseball coach Tony Vitello answered questions from members of the local media on Saturday afternoon after game two of Tennessee’s win at Kentucky from Proud Park.

Below is a written transcript of the Tony Vitello postgame press conference.

On if it was fitting for Moore and Burke leading off the game with back-to-back home runs….

“Yeah, and I think it requires leadership to come back from a loss that has a lot of emotion to it. It’s a grudge match back and forth. Kudos to the opponent, they certainly did what they needed to win the game, but we certainly made some mistakes that contributed to the whole deal. When you wrap that into one package what you need is a little bit of leadership and some guys to calm the storm in the dugout for you. Eventually you have to play ball, too. Guys got to do things and those two guys do about as much as anybody on a day-to-day basis or definitely on the season for the whole.”

On how big the first inning was to take the crowd out of it…

“They are involved. I think our guys like playing in this park when there’s fans in it as opposed to last time maybe it was the weather. We’ve been here a couple of times now. It’s a big park, so you don’t want it to be hollow. And fortunately, we have a lot of fans of our own that usually travel with us. I think more for our guys, it was about relieving a little sense of pressure of we didn’t play our best, you’re down 0-1 and obviously want to win a series that has been talked about a little bit. All in all, it was big but no more than any other game in how you want to come out and take a lead.”

On Aaron Combs and his recent appearances…

“Yeah, we’ve talked about it. I think just pitching more. I think staying true to his identity. I think maybe going outside of himself a little early in the year. But also, I’ve harped on this theme of getting guys in a rhythm. You’d like your guys to be basically 90 percent or 100 percent healthy and you’d like them to have a couple of reps out on the mound. Even before he gets on the mound, you’d like for him to have a sequence of throwing and stuff like that. January and February wasn’t built up for him the way you would normally like. He had to get his feet under him a little bit and it’s been nice to see him pitching the way that he is.”

On Aaron Combs getting out of jams on the mound…

“I think the composure. At times last year, he would get a little too fired up. Now, I think he’s found a balance of pitching with intensity – I mean, if you ever listen to music he listens to, it’s about as intense as it gets. So, that’s always going to be there but there has to be a little bit of balance. In order to have the type of control he had today, you have to be under control. He certainly was that.”

On how they wanted to use Aaron Combs out of the bullpen…

“I think to get us out of big jams. That certainly occurred today. One moment you think [Drew] Beam is rolling and the next moment they remind you that they have a capable club. We got to him in a really big spot and he handled it. A big jam in college baseball, I guess it could happen earlier in the fifth. I think that one happened in the fifth. 

“Very few of us have a closer that is a Mariano Rivera, ninth inning. So that’s what we saw him as, but again, we had to get him healthy, out there and then that situation wasn’t coming up because we were either down or we were scoring in pretty good numbers to where we weren’t in those type games. It’s easier to say now because we won today, but last night, we were very fortunate to be in that game the way that we were, to be involved in that game. Because you’re going to be in those tight games, 5-3, 3-2, 6-4 where every pitch seems to have a lot of weight to it. And you have to experience it and get some reps to be the best version of yourselves and we just didn’t have that at the beginning of the year for Combs. And now the next time it comes up, there’s a good chance he’s the guy in that situation.”

On Dylan Dreiling hitting two home runs…

Dreiling was much more under control. I mention that phrase for Comsby or anybody that is pitching, but in order to be under control with your performance, you have to be under control and he was just kind of running at the thing last night. Never really got his swing off at any point and today, not only did he get his swing off a couple of times, but in situations where he just kind of had to battle, you saw some calm there and really was just using his hands. He was talked about in high school and talked about now by scouts as a pro prospect because he’s really got a unique set of hitting hands that he’s got as far as attributes go.”

On Kavares Tears hitting a home run and having three hits…

“KT I think was just determined as all heck to get back to being himself. Sometimes you just kind of say enough is enough. I’ve seen that out of a couple guys, too, that are anxious to get out on that field and be a better version of themselves when they get another opportunity. Because we got talented guys that maybe aren’t out there or haven’t been out there this weekend against Kentucky, but again, sometimes as a competitor, you just simplify and say you know what, I’m putting an end to this. And he hadn’t really been his best the last couple weeks, but you saw what he is today.”

What he saw from Drew Beam in his start…

“Towards the end, I really think they were just doing what they had to do. Putting the bat on the ball on pitches. Not trying to do too much against them. Early on, they come out of the gates with (Ryan) Waldschmidt and it looked like Beam may face the same consequences as we had in the first inning on our behalf. He just righted the ship and calmed the storm. I don’t think he was doing anything crazy, other than locating really well when he kind of pieced those together. The outs in a row that you’re talking about. So, it was an interesting outing for him. It was kind of built with some ups and downs for a guy that we talk about being consistent all the time.”

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