Tennessee head baseball coach responds to criticism regarding fan behavior

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2021 NCAA Tournament Knoxville Super Regional kicks off Saturday, June 12 with the Tennessee Vols hosting the LSU Tigers.

Both teams met up in a regular season matchup, and things didn’t end well for the Tigers. LSU lost all three games played that weekend, and head coach Paul Mainieri publicly voiced his frustration.

A large part of the issues he addressed was the behavior of the fans and players throughout the series.

Shortly after the series hosted in the Lindsey Nelson Stadium, Mainieri says in an interview his team played in “an extremely hostile environment.” He goes on to say the fans and players were “nasty” throughout the weekend.

“The other team was not handling things with a lot of class, quite frankly,” he said.

Now the Tigers prepare to meet the Vols in Knoxville once again, and this time, a ticket to the College World Series is at stake.

It’s no surprise Tennessee’s head coach Tony Vitello was asked to comment on this situation, and Vitello stood by his players and fans. In fact, Vitello encouraged fans to show up and be even more rowdy than the last time.

“You know, about this coming weekend, if it’s anything like last weekend, make it that,” Vitello said. “So if you want to call that nasty, make it that.”

In the last meeting between the Tigers and Vols, fans were at limited capacity, only allowing 3,689 fans inside the stadium. This time, more fans will be in attendance for every game, and Vitello is hoping to use that to his team’s advantage.

Vitello also acknowledges the SEC as having some of the largest, nicest, and rowdiest stadiums in the country, and he believes although his team won’t have the nicest and biggest stadium, he knows they can at least bring the noise.

“I think what we’ve got going on is our fans are trying to compete with what goes on at Baum Stadium or Alex Box Stadium or down in Starkville,” Vitello said.

Vitello continues his response by acknowledging how much easier it can be to pinpoint exactly what an individual is saying in a smaller crowd.

“You had a smaller crowd then, so you can hear the exact words people are saying with those smaller COVID crowds, and you had a group of five or six guys that probably had some pops in ‘em all over [LSU first baseman] Tre’ Morgan at first base,” Vitello said.

Vitello still shares his respect for head coach Paul Mainieri, and the matchup this time should be even more interesting and entertaining than the last.