Tennessee HC Tony Vitello. Photo by Ric Butler/Rocky Top Insider.
Tennessee Baseball head coach Tony Vitello met with the media following the Vols’ 7-0 shutout victory over UC-San Diego to share his takeaways from UT’s first win of the season.
Vitello touched on how good starting pitcher Drew Beam was in his start, and how his calming presence helped the team get started on the right foot.
“He kind of calmed the storm a little bit,” Vitello said regarding Beam. “We needed something today, whether it be an early run or a strong pregame or good energy, you name it, but what we got was a really solid start, which is kind of the theme when he gets the ball. He had good presence too. They were in it, obviously they wanted to win the game, and they had a little extra energy going on over there, and the fact he had a calming presence I think affected our team.”
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The Vols’ skipper also discussed how significant Blake Burke’s bat was in the win, as the sophomore got things rolling for Tennessee in the fourth inning and smashed a solo home run in the sixth.
“When he hits a ball like that in a park this big, it gets the whole dugout excited,” Vitello said regarding Burke’s triple. “It is kind of like a big dunk in basketball, it truly does shift the momentum a little bit. But you gotta capitalize on it, too, which fortunately we were able to do at the plate.”
Tennessee went on to add four runs in the seventh inning to blow the game open, and solid bullpen pitching kept the Tritons scoreless. Vitello used five total bullpen arms, and none did as well as Zach Joyce. Joyce struck out his only two batters with the bases loaded to get out of the jam and preserve Tennessee’s comfortable lead.
“Well sometimes the kids make you look smart, and that’s what he did in that case,” Vitello said referring to Joyce. It wasn’t quite how we thought we were going to bring him in the game. He had warmed up a bunch, but all the saga aside, he came out onto the mound and I was almost ready to apologize, and say, ‘We kind of got you in a tough situation here’ and keep it light, but he came out and was laughing. Kind of joking with all the boys, but clearly focused, too. And that’s what you got to do out of the pen. Come out with a good heart rate and let your best stuff fly. And his stuff is pretty good.”
Vitello’s entire postgame press conference video is below.