Everything Tony Vitello Said After Tennessee Dropped Saturday Game At Arkansas

Tony Vitello Discusses Outfield Performance in Season-Opening Loss

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball dropped game two of its weekend series at Arkansas as situational hitting and defensive mistakes cost the Vols in the 6-3 loss.

Its the third straight series loss for Tennessee as the Vols fall to 5-9 in SEC play and will look to salvage the weekend series Sunday afternoon.

Tennessee coach Tony Vitello discussed Chase Dollander’s start, the clutch hitting struggles and more with Rocky Top Insider following the loss.

Here’s everything Vitello said.

More From RTI: Three Takeaways As Tennessee Dropped Game Two At Arkansas Saturday Night

On Chase Dollander’s outing

“It was good. Pitch count was a little bit of a factor. Then we played the situation which I think was the right thing to do, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. I think tonight it did, last week it didn’t. Still looking forward to that outing where we push the limit on the pitch count with him a little bit. But to me, the starter’s job is, I’ve said this a million times, the starter’s job is to come out of the game and give us a chance to win, and he certainly put us in a position to do that.”

On the next step for Chase Dollander to have a more complete outing

“Yeah, I mean the first inning, you got two of the better competitors in the league going at it, and then the guy ends up drawing a walk. And then arguably one of the best left-handed hitters, or one of them, I don’t know how you line them up, and no disrespect to anybody, but that guy is pretty good. So, it was a clash of the titans in the first inning that didn’t go his way, but the rest of the time, he was fantastic. We could’ve made a play behind him, and we didn’t. So maybe things roll a little smoother for him after that, but I think early in the year, there were some ups and downs, but for the most part, he’s been pretty consistent, in my eyes, especially the last two weekends against two really good clubs.”

On Maui Ahuna not starting at shortstop

“That was a trainer thing. Not being smart alec, but you’d have to ask the trainer. I don’t know what the official assessment is.”

On Arkansas’ three-run seventh inning

“Cam(den Sewell) has been our guy in the past, he’s been our guy this year. He led us to victory on the road the last time we were on the rod. I don’t think they can brag about hammering him all over the park, but he certainly shot himself in the foot a little bit with the hit-by-pitch deal. We try something there because when it’s not going well, you can’t just sit still, you want to try stuff. And I think we’ve probably been guilty of not executing in general. That’s pretty obvious if you’re watching in person or on TV, but also a little guilty of… because we’re not executing, we’re trying a little too hard, and when you try hard, you die hard.”

On if trying to hard is the reason for the situational hitting struggles

“Yeah, I mean, more offspeed pitches from their guys and some of our guys out front. So, we need to do a better job of manufacturing. There’s been a couple of times in the first inning, both nights, where you got a guy at third base that needs to be driven in, and I guess we did get it done with the balk last night, so we got it done by accident. We need to get it done on purpose.”

On who will start for Tennessee in the series finale

“Beam will pitch tomorrow and Burns is obviously available out of the ‘pen. Our intention was to use him maybe twice this weekend but now we’re whittled down to once. What his specific role is when he comes in the game we’ll see but our guys like playing behind Beamer so he’ll start the game for us.”

On how Burns has handled getting moved to the bullpen

“He’s been great. It’s been a quirky deal and it’s led me to have a conversation where it was pointed out there’s not a lot of guys— we’re standing on a field where Kevin Kopps put together one of the greatest pitching years ever. He didn’t do that three straight years. I love the guy but he didn’t do it three straight years. There’s very few guys that have put together three great years in college whether it be hitting or pitching. He was great last year. I think he’s going to be really good next year, probably great, and he still has a chance to make it a good year this year if not great. It’s just been quirky how it’s gone. I think a little reset is good for everybody in his case, in particular we know he’ll have good stuff and a fresh arm and you always know he’s going to compete.”

On if Seth Halvorsen will be available in the series finale

“Yeah. Yeah, he’s a guy that always wants the ball and maybe we’ve been caught being a little too conservative with our arms because he probably could have went tonight but we had Cam(den) in there and he’s a guy because of his leadership and years here and also his ability to get out of jams like he did with that deal with the bases loaded, we rode but probably did too long. I know he was a little sore. So it’ll mean a loaded bullpen tomorrow or however you want to phrase it.”

On Jared Dickey hitting leadoff home runs consecutive games

“You will not show up to the ballpark— it could just be a scrimmage— and not see something unique that you have not seen before if you’re observant. The kid really enjoys playing and it’s fun having guy with a little bit of spunk to him and bounce around and really enjoy playing and then back to the mistake thing if you make a mistake but you’re playing the game that way I think we can all sleep well at night or at least decent enough. Sleep on a loss tonight if you’re a Vol. Maybe you wake up a little more hungry, a little determined tomorrow.”

On what he liked about Bryce Jenkins’ outing

“He keeps growing but I think we always thought he was fully capable of that prior to the season starting and then once the season started as long as he just kind of got his cleats in the ground. First couple times out, it’s expected especially if you’re a local guy who wants to wear this uniform more than anybody. They tend to put a little extra pressure on themselves so once he got his breath under him and his cleats in the ground a few times, he’s been super consistent for us.”

Author: Ethan Moore