Mike Fox, Trent Thornton, Chris McCue, Brian Holberton & Skye Bolt
Listen to Audio (10:27)
“First of all, I’d like to congratulate LSU for an incredible season. They’re a tough team for us to only hold them to two runs today. Obviously credit to two of these guys up here. (Trent Thornton & Chris McCue) We’re certainly happy to have survived this one. I thought the homerun by Brian was really crucial for us to kind of let the air out a little bit. Playing with a lead is something we seem to have not done in awhile so that was good. Just some big pitches down the stretch. We survived. 58 wins is the most ever in the history of the University of North Carolina baseball according to what Dave Schmidt just told me. That's quite an accomplishment for these players. So certainly happy to have won and stay out here a little while longer.”
Mike, talk about Trent's performance and the fact that even when he got in trouble as a freshman on the stage, he was able to go in there, put out the fires so to speak:
“Well, we had the utmost confidence in Trent today. I think all of his teammates did as well. He's pitched like that for us all year long. So we're sort of used to that.
"I think that's his 12th win. So I think might be the most ever by a freshman as well. He works incredibly hard, as do all these guys up there. And he was just terrific, made some big pitches when he needed to, and kind of weathered the storm a little bit, big double play there, big pitch was critical for us. And we got two pitchers up here that got us a win in Omaha from the same high school. So need to give a shout out out there to Hal Bagwell from Ardrey Kell High School. Coached them good.”
Coach, your switch with the batting order, moving Holberton to cleanup, sliding Skye down clearly paid off. What was your thought process going into that?
“It was a good sac bunt he got down right before Skye's base hit? Is that what you're referring to? I'm kidding. Well, yeah, it made the move look good but it wasn't me. Brian's been in that position before. We felt we needed to move some things around a little bit, and really we did think about that, that having Brian in there, he can do a lot of things for us besides hit a home run. Obviously he can hit and run and he can bunt and he can do a lot of things for us. Paid off today. He did well.”
Coach, you switched Brian and Skye in the lineup a couple of weeks ago what caused you to put Skye in the six spot out of the seven today?
“Just sort of gut. I kind of talked to Coach Jackson a little bit, just felt we needed to make a change. Really just for the sake of just change, nothing really negative or positive, really. Just maybe just get Skye out of that four hole and drop him down a little bit. It gave us some righties back to back with all the lefties we knew that were coming at us today. So that was basically it.”
Mike, Colin Moran has been struggling lately as well, but he seemed to get back on track today. What went into that and how nice was that to see after a while?
“It's really good to see. I think the lead helped a little bit, just to relax. And Colin's just so talented, I think it's just a matter of time that he's going to kind of get back into it a little bit. I thought he looked at the ball a lot better today. Although, he swung at ball four when he flied out to left field. That's something you don't see him do very often. So he kind of reverted back a little bit. That's something that he's gotta continue to look at the ball good because that's one of his best traits. Nice to see him get a few base hits and us getting double digit in hits today. Hopefully that will help us going forward.”
Coach, here you are, I guess you've got to win three more games, I think, to get to the finals and you still have two of your weekend starters that haven't gone yet and Kent didn't throw a whole lot the other day. Do you feel pretty good about the way your pitching it setting up going forward?
“Yeah, we have Hobbs and Benton and they'll have to start some games for us. One will have to start one game anyway. Hopefully more than one. We need to get a good start out of whichever one that is. And possibly Kent can come back, so we can't look too far ahead. It's just about winning, trying to win the next one. But we're in good shape as far as that's concerned.”
Trent, just what did Brian's home run do for your confidence there in the first inning, knowing you were starting with the lead after that?
“It's always good to get a lead early in the game. And when you get a lead early, need to focus and know that -- just don't give up any runs and you'll win the game. It's just a confidence booster, because you've got your team's back.”
You're screaming into your glove a few times coming off the field. Is that coming from frustration, excitement? What are you saying to yourself in that situation?
“A little bit mixture of both. Just tell myself to make good pitches and one inning at a time, that's pretty much it.”
Brian, can you kind of take me through that at-bat when you hit the home run. The LSU coach said he thought you had struck out on the previous pitch:
“I asked the umpire after I went out there, I was like, where did you have that pitch? He said, I had that out pretty good. I said, good, keep doing that. I was watching Chaz's bat and he was swinging over some pitches. And he came back in and said the ball was running in on him. And I watched Colin. And so when I got up there, I was thinking if he throws one, he's gotta try to pull it because he's going to run in on your hands, and that's exactly what he did. I swung over -- I think it was the second strike. And after that I just stepped out. I told myself he's going to try to throw a two-seamer in here so don't get beat in. He threw it in and put a pretty good swing on it.”
Can you speak to the resiliency of this team now, having won for the third time in a couple of weeks when your backs were against the wall?
“It goes to show the whole team doesn't want to give up. We've done it all year, with our backs against the wall, just come out fighting. And I think we played better that way. And we're a team that just doesn't want to lose. We just want to keep going.”
Paul Mainieri & Players
Listen to Audio (12:31)
“Obviously it's a very disappointing day for all of us associated with LSU baseball. Like I told the players, you have to deal with two disappointments. You have to deal with the disappointment of losing a singular game that you felt you could have won. It was a very frustrating game. We had so many opportunities and just couldn't come through with a big hit or some of the things throughout the game that happened that just were very frustrating for us.
“So you have to deal with the loss of a singular game, but at the same time, you also know that it's a loss that ends your season. And we have to come to grips with that as time goes on. We'll have time to do that when we get back to Baton Rouge, and I can meet with the players a little bit longer.
“But this game itself was just very frustrating for us. I thought Cody (Glenn) looked really good to start the game. His sinker ball was working good. He was pounding the zone, and we thought we had the kid struck out with two strikes, 2-2 pitch and didn't get the call, and, boom, lays one in there, two-run homer on the next pitch.
"So it put us in a hole right away. And then they started to get to Cody there a little bit. We got pretty fortunate to get out of the one inning on the line drive double play. And I considered making a change right there after the second inning and bringing Brent in. I wish I had, quite frankly. Probably cost us another run, the hesitation to bring him in, but I thought Brent just did a phenomenal job for us and gave us a chance to win. And that's what you ask for.
“Then Chris Cotton came in, did a super job, went down to hit a change up to give them that one run that proved to be pretty important for them. We had so many opportunities. We got guys on base and just couldn't come through with the hits that we needed. And so we didn't play our best out here. We know that. We're disappointed in that, and we came here to win, came here to win a championship. And we came up a little bit short.”