THE MODERATOR: How did it look from third base dugout?
COACH CORBIN: It didn't look good, but it was just one of those things where, as I told the kids, it was just the difference in a swing, really. Both teams pitched very well the whole entire time. Starters did a nice job. The guy on my right pitched very well, and put us in a position to win. Then the relievers after that, Will and Corey did what they've done here down the stretch, which is really nice to see in this environment.
But that was the difference. It was just a swing, and that is the way the game's played, particularly when you've got two very even teams. And I know that they've had their way in terms of the outcome, but that doesn't change my opinion in terms of the evenness between Florida and Vanderbilt.
Q. Aaron, what was Steven Rodriguez doing out there to kind of keep you guys off balance?
Aaron Westlake: He was, you know, working the outer third of the plate. Utilizing his cutter and his slider. Just keeping us off balance. He's a good pitcher. We'll tip our hat to him, particularly for the lefties. We should have gotten on the plate a lot more. We made an adjustment today, but yesterday we had some opportunities and we just ran out of bats. We'll just tip our caps to him. He's a good pitcher. But we'll get him next time though.
Q. Grayson, looked like it was a changeup that you left up to Preston. Is that what happened at that at bat, and could you go through that pitch sequence if you could?
Grayson Garvin: It was actually a slider that I hung. Good hitters. That's what they do. He should have hit that where he hit it. Again, like Corbin said, it was kind of a tailed one pitch. I actually thought I pitched better yesterday than I pitched in about a month, but it was one swing.
You know, I think we are two evenly matched teams, but they got the better of us yesterday and today, and that happens. But, yet again, that was just kind of a hung slider. He's a very good hitter. His bat stays in the zone a long time, and he made me pay.
Q. Tim, number one, the 12 strikeouts, what did that say, if anything? And two, Preston Tucker's probably been as hot as anybody in this tournament. Could you tell us how you try to approach pitching to him and what you do when he's up there?
COACH CORBIN: The answer to your first question is we have a very good offense. So when you get 12 strikeouts against a Vanderbilt team, in my opinion, that's an anomaly. That is a kid that's executing his pitches. When kids like Aaron, and Esposito and Gomez don't get off good swings, there is a reason for that.
It's like shooting poorly in basketball. If you can't get off a good shot because you have a hand in your face, then you're not going to be as successful. It's the same case as it was today.
Answer to your second question, Tucker is a very accomplished hitter. For me to say it was the difference in one pitch, is not to make this kid feel worse than he does because he put us in the position to win to begin with. But Preston has been in the league for a while. He's been in the Cape Cod League. He has a very flat swing. He has the ability to stay on lateral breaking balls because of his swing. He just had his time. He got his pitch.
Q. To your point, games against Florida you've come up more than not on the short end. Does that increase your frustration that you've played a lot of close games and just haven't managed to win games?
COACH CORBIN: Well, I think losses are frustrating, period. I think Florida, because we are so close, our Friday night game at home was one in which we had a lead and a rain delay stopped us. We felt like we could keep Sonny going and finish off that game. We were unable to finish it the very next day. Then Grayson picked us up and we won a 14 1 game.
I don't want to travel you guys through history, but it's been very close with the exception of the SEC Tournament. That was basically their game because they pitched very well and we didn't hit.
But, you know, today was a little bit frustrating just because we couldn't get off our swings. We couldn't get successive runners on base, and we couldn't utilize any type of skill game or offense against them. You know, you have to credit them, you do.
Q. Grayson, the pitch or the at bat before the Tucker at bat is when you tried to make that flip with your glove. I wondered if that changed your approach going into that at bat having a first and third situation off that infield hit? If you recall that play, it's the one you made towards first.
Grayson Garvin: I don't think it changed my approach. I was just trying to go at him the same way whether or not Zunino was on first, and Fontana was on second. Probably looking back talking with D.J., our pitching coach, my sequence probably would have been different, but it had nothing to do with the fact that they had guys on first and third.
Q. Grayson, at one point you held their 5 through 9 hitters to like 1 for 12. You struck out Brian Johnson three times. Just kind of tell us what you had working against those guys?
Grayson Garvin: I felt like I had all my stuff working yesterday. Over the past couple of weeks I felt like my old speed stuff was hit or miss. I felt comfortable with my changeup and my slider, moving the fastball in and out. So I was just trying to stick to that plan like I've done all year.
So I wasn't doing too much different, back footing the slider on the righties and expanding it on the lefties, and using the changeup when I needed to, moving the fastball in and out.
Q. You've been in the league a long time. Have you ever seen Paco that good? What was he doing so well today?
Aaron Westlake: Like I said, he's a great pitcher. He utilizes those two pitches. It's kind of like a lefty version of Will Clinard. You've got a pretty hard cutter and you compliment it with a slider. Throws you off balance. Most of the pitches are moving away. You know, he's the guy that basically against lefties he works away and makes you hit his pitch. He's not going to give you a pitch to hit. Like coach said, him and Karsten didn't give us many pitches to hit yesterday and today. So we'll give them credit.
I've been in the league, and he is one of the better pitchers I've seen out of a bullpen staff for lefties. So, just tip our caps to them, and we'll see them again. We've seen them before, and we're going to be more prepared next time.
Q. Tim, if you could talk about Whitson. I know they took him out early, but to see a guy like that with that kind of arm, what was he doing in the first four innings that made you think he had the game in hand himself until he ran into trouble in the fifth?
COACH CORBIN: Yeah, he doesn't pitch like a freshman. He's a big, strong kid. He throws a big, heavy ball like he's throwing bowling balls to the plate, and he keeps coming. Where I thought we had him is when Sully took him out. I think he got to the fifth inning there and he started losing the strike zone a little bit.
But he's poised. He's got command of his fastball. He throws a breaking ball under the string, below the knees, makes it difficult on the right handed hitter because you have to gear up for a power fastball. When he throws the slider, he gets you to cheat a little bit, and you lead off his ball. You know, he's a first rounder. You're not supposed to keep kids like that, and they did. That's why Florida's pretty good.
Make no bones about it now. In order for Florida to beat Vanderbilt, they better be pretty damn good, and they are.
Q. If you could talk about the mindset of a team that has to go through an overnight delay, and how you guys came back feeling this morning, and Aaron, if you could talk about the 3 through 6 hitters so far in this tournament, I think just two hits for you guys. Are you pressing at all? How tough is it to turn it around when you have such a shore timeframe?
Will Clinard: Earlier this year we played Florida and we also had a rain delay. We had the right mindset coming into this game because we've been here before. I was coming in before the rain delay. I knew I'd have the ball this afternoon. So I had overnight to prepare for this, so we were definitely prepared to come in and beat them today.
Aaron Westlake: As for your second question, we never press our team. We're very confident in each other. We know that maybe if a couple of guys are struggling, we've got nine guys in the lineup that are going to pick each other up. So me, Curt, Espo, maybe some of the guys have been struggling a little bit, but we have Tony, Gomez, Conrad, and Riley picking us up right now. It's baseball. You're not going to get a hit every single game.
Curt's been putting good swings on the ball. Espo won the last at bat. Yeah, he put a good swing on the ball two days ago. We're fine. Like I said, it's baseball. You're not going to have a hit or couple hits every game.
So we're going to get a good rest of the day off. Get our mindset back together, and tomorrow we're going to come out swinging and get prepared like we always do. We're feeling fine.
Florida Postgame Quotes
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I thought it was a great game by both clubs. Obviously, the margin for error was very small for both sides. Kind of had an eerie feeling going into the game because we had a similar situation at Vanderbilt where they had a two run lead and got rained out and had to come back the next day. I thought both pitchers did exactly what they needed to do to give their team a chance to stay in the ballgame.
Like I said, the margin for error was very small today. A walk here, an error there and the next thing the complexion of the game changes.
Both teams played great. We're looking forward to Friday. Obviously we've got a long way to go in this thing. Whoever we play on Friday, we'll probably see their number one pitcher, so we've got a lot of work to do the next couple of days. We've got to stay focused on what we're doing and be ready to go.
This thing is long way from over, but we're awfully excited about the position we're in right now.
Q. Sully, your assessment on Steve? He looked pretty good out there.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: He did what he needed to do. He's done that a lot for us this year. He's one of those guys that he may not get the notoriety that some of the other guys do, but the guys in our locker room know how good he is and how valuable he is. I've said for a long time he's got a chance to pitch in the big leagues for a long time. Today was an extra special day to come back from last night.
Like I said, the margin for error was very small. A walk here, next thing you know the momentum changes. Very proud of the way he pitched. He needed to do that for us to win today.
Q. Steven, can you talk about your last pitch before you came here with a walk off and how you bounced back to do what you did? Also, could you talk about being out on the mound and hearing sirens going off last night?
STEVEN RODRIGUEZ: The first thing was when I came out of the Mississippi State game, I was coming in trying to do my job. That's what I tried to do. It didn't come out this my favor, but I had to forget about it and going to the next game. I can't let anything like that affect me from the day before. It's a new day, and I've just got to come out there and do my job if I get the opportunity.
Yesterday, when the sirens went off I was kind of upset because I was dealing, and I felt really good. So I was like, God, I don't need this to happen right now. I was like hopping around in the locker room trying to stay warm so I could go back out there, but it didn't happen. So I was like let's prepare for today, and go at it today, and everything came out in my favor.
Q. Steven, you've started a couple of games in your career. Did you prepare for this morning's start?
STEVEN RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, somewhat I prepared to go out as a start. But I just needed to get warmed up, ready to go like I usually do coming out of the pen. Because that's what it was basically coming down to in the last few innings. So I kind of did, but at the same time I kept my routine and kept everything the same way I usually get ready for a game.
Q. Preston, you continued a pretty impressive run. Could you talk about what's been going right and how you're feeling at the plate? Also, take us through the home run at bat?
PRESTON TUCKER: It's a combination of things. First thing is guys in front of me are getting on base. Bryson and Nolan have been doing a good job getting on base and putting pressure on the pitcher. As for swinging the bat, I'm trying to slow things down. Get my foot down early; get my hands back on tile, and just looking for fastballs to hit and reaction to breaking balls.
Q. On the Preston Tucker's homerun
PRESTON TUCKER: I know how competitive Garvin is. He's going it to give me his best stuff. He's got a real good fastball. He's throwing his breaking ball pretty well yesterday. Every plus count he had on me, he had been throwing me breaking balls. So I was obviously was looking for a fastball, but breaking ball I wasn't going to be surprised at all. He had thrown everything in the zone, but he left that one up a little bit.
Q. Karsten, just kind of talk about your start there. You were rolling and got a few strikeouts there early on before you got taken out?
KARSTEN WHITSON: Yeah, I felt good. I was trying to pitch low in the zone on today or I guess yesterday. I was trying to pitch low in the zone and trying to have quick innings. I knew it was obviously going to be a low scoring game because with both bullpens and Garvin and myself, it was just going to be a low scoring game.
I was just trying to keep us in it. My slider was a little low in the zone the first couple innings. Then I did a good job of changing my sights and bringing it up a little bit, and I was able to keep hitters off balance. Overall I felt good. I knew when Preston hit that three run homer, I just had to put a zero on the board the next inning, which I did.
Then Sully came and got me and brought in Paco, and you can't say enough about what he did today. So it was good for him to pick me up.
Q. Kevin, could you talk a little bit about the tear that Preston's been on, and what it's like to have a hitter like that in the lineup?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I think if you're going to make a run in the postseason, you need a guy or two to get hot like this. You need your special players to play special, that is the bottom line, he's been able to do that for us. He's got a lot of support. I think the thing that is special about Preston and a lot of our guys is they deflect a lot of the attention from themselves. He understands when guys get on base in front of him, that it gives him the opportunity.
For us to play as well as we want to play for the rest of this tournament, we'll need special performances from our best players, as simple as that, and he's been able to do that.
Q. Coach, talk a little about your pitching in two ways. One about bringing Rodriguez back after the delay, of course. And also does this kind of roll over your pitching again? Do you start from the beginning with Randall again in your next game or do you go elsewhere?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Well, we haven't really had a chance to talk about what's going to happen Friday. I think a little bit depends on who we play. We've got some options. At some point though I do know that we need to get Maddox into a ballgame and we need to get him going. But we've got some other options down there too. We haven't used Toledo yet. We haven't used DeSclafani, a few other guys that haven't pitched. But I think it's important to get Maddox out there at some point. And your other question some.
Q. Coming back from the delay.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: He had thrown 11 pitches, and I think the general rule, at least for us, is if he throws 30 or more, then we've got a tough decision to make. For us with him throwing 11, he threw the one pitch, obviously, in the Super Regional. He's well rested. As you can tell, he's strong and durable. There is no question we're going to run him back out there with the pitch count the way it was the night before.
Q. Talk a little about Whitson's poise and kind of the season and he's faced another first rounder and just went out there and started dealing again. He wasn't overwhelmed by the pressure at all.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Well, I think first off, it's the College World Series. Second off, he's facing Vanderbilt who we all know is one of the best teams in the country. Third of all, he's pitching against Garvin who is a supplemental pick who obviously is SEC pitcher of the year. So there is no margin for error.
I was extremely pleased and proud of the way he pitched. The best inning for me was the first. Then when he put up a zero after we scored those three runs, he showed tremendous poise. Without his performance, I know Paco's, obviously, with his performance today, he's getting a lot of the attention. But we certainly would not have been in this position today if it wasn't for Karsten's start.
Q. Preston and Coach O'Sullivan, can you both talk about the weirdness of last night with the sirens and everything? Also, have you ever played in a game where you scored no runs on a day and advanced in such a big tournament?
PRESTON TUCKER: No, I haven't played on a day like this. But we knew that it happened at Vanderbilt. We got rained out. The main thing was we had to stay focused. We knew how easy it was to actually come back and tie the game up down by two runs just like we did at Vanderbilt. So we needed to get the last out with Esposito and get some started. We knew that Paco was going to get his best effort.
We were hoping for an extra run or two for support, but we didn't need it with his performance.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: As far as the no runs, no, I don't remember that. But like I said, the eerie thing about today was you knew they had Clinard, they had Williams, and with the two run lead, it was going to be very difficult for us to score. That was the most uncomfortable thing is we knew the margin for error was going to be very small today.
Q. Can you talk about the luxury of when you talk about Steven and his potential of having a guy with that kind of talent to bring out of the bullpen and not have to use him as a starter because of the depth of your pitching staff and just what that allowed for you guys in a tournament like this especially when you get to the point where you're 2 0 now?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: We understand, and I said this before the season started, I knew this is probably the deepest pitching staff that I've ever been able to work with. We knew that going into the season.
Obviously, we've got a lot of options. There is a little luck along the way. You've got to get lucky with the draft a little bit. Guys had to perform up to expectations, which most of them have been able to do, but we've got a lot of options. We're balanced in the bullpen, which I think separates us maybe from most. We've got two power lefties down there in Paco, and Maronde, and we've got a couple of left handed starters. So we can play mix and match out of the bullpen, which obviously a lot of teams don't have that luxury.
Q. Coach, your lower half of the order at one point last night was 1 12 against Garvin. What's that say about what he was able to do, and what does that say about what you guys need to do going forward?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Well, first game we faced Jungmann, and there is no consolation. Second game you face Garvin. We've seen enough of Garvin. We know what he's all about. There are a lot of good pitchers in this league. He was SEC Pitcher of the Year for a reason.
It's not a real comfortable feeling. You know you're not going to get a 5, 6, 7 run outburst on him. If he pitches like he's going to, it's going to be a low scoring game. That's why the start by Karsten, what Paco was able to do you know, each game presents different situations and different problems. This one was we had to keep him down against a really good lineup, and it's not an easy lineup to pitch to because it's right, left, right, left all the way down.
But we knew what we were in store for and I'm awfully proud of the way we handled it.