Mike Fox, Hobbs Johnson, Michael Russell, Colin Moran & Brian Holberton
Listen to Audio (8:24)
“Hobbs Johnson, that's the overview. NC State's obviously had a terrific season. We've had some great battles with them this year but tonight was all about Hobbs, just incredible performance. We really needed it. And gave us exactly what we needed. A good start and got a lead and we were able to add on to it later on so it's a big win for us obviously. We're happy to still be playing.”
Coach, were you surprised with the decision to go with Carlos Rodon after they announced Stone?
“Not really. And I made the comment during the game when I was interviewed that -- I made it really in jest -- that I knew Elliott better than the rest of you. But, no, I didn't mean anything by that certainly. It's hard when you're in elimination game to not put the boy out there. I get the rest and all that. He only threw 108 pitches, and he's strong as a bull. I know it was a tough decision for him and his staff. But you don't want any regrets leaving here, and I think they probably would have had some if they hadn't pitched him. I'm not trying to speak on behalf of their coaching staff. They do a great job, and it didn't surprise me. We didn't talk to our players about who was pitching. So it wasn't a big factor. We still had to go out there and get it done.”
Mike, looking at Hobbs's performance tonight, the last time against NC State, he had nine Ks in five and a third. What is it about him against those guys that he seems to match up so well with them?
“Hobbs has done that against a lot of other teams this year as well. There's some deception obviously in his fastball. He hides the ball a little bit and it does I think get on you maybe a little bit quicker. And he's able to pitch right at the top of the strike zone. And even our players I think in scrimmages in the fall and preseason and stuff, even our hitters will tell you that his fastball's hard to pick up and it's hard to get on top of. Of course in the ballpark, out here, of course tonight with the wind blowing in, you just -- you wanted to hit it. And the key with Hobbs tonight was just good command, a lot of first pitch strikes and only two walks. And it's the best he's thrown but he's thrown really well for us all year.”
Coach, do you know are you going to start tomorrow?
“I do not. Coach [Scott] Forbes gave me instructions when I came in here. He said, if you're asked that question, tell them that it will either be Kent Emanuel or Benton Moss. We're going to watch UCLA a little bit more on tape, but more than likely one of those two.”
Hobbs, it's a two-part question for you, first part: Did you get tired this week of hearing how great Carlos Rodon is? And the second part: How sweet was it to come out tonight and not only get the best of him and NC State, but kind of outdo his jam from Sunday when they took you guys down?
“He's a great pitcher. I wouldn't really exactly say I outdid him. Because he pitched great against us the first game. And today, we just happened to get on him early and made him throw a lot of pitches early and we were able to attack him.”
Hobbs, what is it about that NC State lineup that lets you get by with just fastballs? And was that sort of the game plan coming in or did that develop as the night went on?
“Actually, for pretty much the whole postseason and the Virginia series, I've been throwing for the most part almost all fastballs. And it's worked outside of one game against South Carolina. And we've just kind of been sticking with it. And today I had better command than I had against South Carolina and FAU. So it just helped me get ahead of them and kind of get some defensive swings.”
How did you evaluate what Carlos had today compared to what he had on Sunday, and was he strong and overpowering, that kind of thing?
“We all going into it wanted to make him threw a lot of pitches just because we knew he'd pitched a few days ago and had a high pitch count. And Landon's at-bat in the first inning set the tone, and that did a good job for the rest of us to have a good idea what to do when we went up there.”
Brian, it seemed like going in, maybe each run would be so critical. When you scored that first one, it was a close play obviously. What were your thoughts on that?
“We knew a few runs might win the game. And it kind of looked that way until the last few innings, just get on top of them early just like we have been lately and get the lead and put some more pressure on that team to go up there and do more really helped us out.”
Did you get your hand in?
“Yeah, I didn't think he even touched me. I didn't feel anything on my back or anything. And I was glad that he called me safe.”
Elliott Avent & Players
Listen to Audio (10:05)
“Just Hobbs Johnson, he's been a problem for us last few times we've seen him. I think he gets better and better. His last two times, especially. We try to lay all fastballs off, especially in this ballpark, but he makes it difficult. He's tough to see. And he was good tonight. Carlos was -- Carlos, appreciate his effort, appreciate him wanting the ball. His teammates respect it and really appreciate it. He was really, really good. And we thought it was going to be a 2-0 game until the 8th or 9th, and we thought we'd have another comeback where we'd win it. And the 8th just unraveled us. Anyway, proud of our team, proud of their effort, and proud to be at North Carolina State University.”