Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics
OMAHA, NE. — Tennessee dropped its College World Series opener 6-3 against LSU Saturday night at Charles Schwab Field.
LSU ace Paul Skenes was fantastic against the Vols and the Tigers withheld Tennessee’s late game push to win the critical game one.
Vitello discussed Skenes, Tennessee’s pitching plan for Monday afternoon and much more. Here’s everything Vitello said.
More From RTI: Tennessee Fails To Solve The Paul Skenes Problem Against LSU
“I’m not good at the opening statement thing. We got beat tonight. I thought our guys played all nine innings. Maybe their coach could have managed the game a little bit better and put us in a better situation to find a way to win. But got the stat sheet here, the same one you guys got.”
On the confidence Chase Dollander and the pitching staff gives him after a loss
“I don’t think we can do anything until, as Griff and Ensley pointed out, get out of bed and prepare. Monday will come when comes it does. I want to see Drew Beam pitch again and so does Chase Dollander. And I think Beamer and I probably have as much confidence in that guy as anybody else on the staff. And one of the guys mentioned too we’ve got a bullpen that’s basically has gotten us here.
So in combination with that and our position players getting after it, got plenty of faith in this group. If we were to lost faith about halfway through the year, we’d be recruiting for about two or three weeks by now.”
On the difference in Paul Skenes today and earlier in the season
“He threw backwards. Throws a hundred miles an hour and he threw backwards on our guys. From his end you’re doing anything you can to advance in the situation in the bracket where you’re in the winner’s side. And he mixed it up.
And in order to do that effectively you’ve got to throw strikes and command your pitches. And he did that. I don’t know what his changeup numbers are, and my angle is not that great. But I would imagine his changeup usage and strike percentage changeup-wise was as good as it’s been all year. He was effective with his whole arsenal.
But there was a heavier mix, I think, than we expected. I think our guys recognized it right away but easier said than done adjusting on the fly in that situation. But the communication was good by the guys in the dugout what they were seeing.”
On why they didn’t use Chase Burns tonight
“We just went with our rotation. That’s been our rotation for the second half of the season, Lindsey, Doe and Beam. And we’re fortunate enough that we’ve got a guy that people call our closer in Chase Burns but he’s really a starter that we’re fortunate enough to use in a bunch of different situations.
And there’s a lot of other guys that contributed, too. I’m not sure where those numbers are. I only look at a couple different stats. But I think that group combined had as good as any ERA in the conference, I think, or at least up there.”
On how Andrew Lindsey pitched
“He was good. I mean, they did what you’ve got to do against a guy like Lindsey. He’s a heavy ground-ball guy. He mixes well himself. They had the one big swing. I don’t know what we did to Gavin, but he hates us. And I’m only speaking in brevity, the best I can do. He’s done well against us the four games we’ve played this year.
But other than that swing, they kind of just — I don’t want to say nickel and dime — they took what they could get off of him and found some holes and were able to accumulate some things.
I’d love for you all to come over to the hotel and replay the game like a video game and make decisions, but when you’re going on the fly there, we treated that situation where Combsy came in as almost like a ninth-inning type situation because, just to be frank, because of the guy that we were facing on their side of things. But I thought he threw the ball good.”
On if he thought they got ambushed by Skenes
“I didn’t. No one throw a water bottle on me or anything. I’ve never played here. The shadows are a deal. We’ve got a kid from Arkansas, that Oregon State game and other situations. So I think that was a little bit of extra battle on top of a guy that’s already got a great arsenal. And, again, the fact he was mixing caused our guys to need to make an adjustment a little bit.
But the whole package there, they played some good defense behind him. The whole package was them making a bunch of plays and pitches and our guys having to keep fighting without getting a reward to show for it the first five or six innings. Eventually the pitch count got high so you have a positive you have to rely on. I don’t feel the guy — maybe I’m saying the wrong thing — but from my standpoint I don’t feel he bum-rushed us. He was just better on most of the occasions that he was up there.”
On if it’s harder to get players to adjust to the strike zone than it used to be
“Dude, I’d like to coach the game on Monday or at least be over there in the dugout. I think the TrackMan deal has just changed the game because that data is there and everybody sees it. So you kind of want to know what the game is so you can try and win the game and you accumulate that data as best you can and attack in certain situations.
I think what you’re saying is if guys got to adjust on the fly, can they do that. And that’s the part of the game. I mean, Hunter is a smart kid. He said it. It’s a game of adapting and adjusting on the fly. You have to kind of see what’s out there. And there are certain days, in Hattiesburg, part of winning the game is dealing with lightning delay. Sometimes the ball’s carrying. Sometimes it’s not. So there’s a bunch of different battles going on within trying to put a ball in play off a pitcher, our guy trying to throw a pitch and locate it.
You’ve got to do whatever you can to get it done. Not the most eloquent answer, but the best I can do. I did get a degree.”