June 21, 2010
Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery
Head Coach Jack Leggett Alex Frederick Mike Freeman Casey Harman
THE MODERATOR: Now joined by the Clemson Tigers, Coach Alex Frederick. Opening statement, Coach. LEGGETT: Well, proud of our kids. We played a very good ball game today. I thought we were a complete game from start to finish. Our pitching was very good with Casey opening it up and gave us some great innings. And Alex came in, closed the door, did an outstanding job with men on base. Nobody out and the bases loaded, he came in and I think they only got one run, which was huge.
And Mike had a couple, had a piece and two really strong and important double plays for us and just wanted to bat well. Our offense was clicking pretty well today. I think we had a good approach on their pitcher, and got some confidence going early with the bases loaded the first couple of innings, and we got the big hits with two outs, we got the big hits with men on base, and we executed very well.
The whole order, everybody in the order had a base hit. So everybody contributed. And our defense was good. And I think our approach, our mental approach was really good. We talked about it last night. It was frustrating not to play last night. But I think we had the right approach.
And we got up early, took showers, ate breakfast, tried to treat it like it was an afternoon ball game. And we were ready to play at the very beginning, and even after we went over to Creighton, I think we had a great approach on the bus.
We were loose and relaxed and played well. Very pleased. Against a very good team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Jack and Casey, how much of a benefit or how much did last year’s Super Regional game play into how you prepared for today and how these results turned out? LEGGETT: Well, I think it was big. There’s no substitute for experience. Once you’ve been in big games before and big situations, you always hope to take it to the next level the next time around and play a better game and feel more relaxed and more confident. And Casey pitched against them last year.
We’ve seen them on TV and on tape. And they’ve had a great season. They’re still a great team, outstanding team. They’re going to be in the tournament battling again tomorrow.
And we may see them again. But at the same time, Casey, I think, keeps on growing, keeps on getting better and continues to develop confidence as the season goes on. And I thought he was good out there. I liked the way his approach was outstanding and I’m sure he drew off of experience last year.
HARMAN: I think last year’s Super Regional was kind of a different story. I think we went into that a little more timid and this year coming into the college World Series we came in here with all the confidence in the world.
I think that’s really been the big difference for us. We just came in, just knowing that we’re not going to lose. And I think that’s been the biggest difference for us as a team.
Q. Jack, two things: First of all, I know this is somewhat of a common question. But in all reality, how important is it to win this first game in this tournament? And then secondly, today you had 14 hits. You also had 14 singles. That’s kind of unusual. Talk a little bit about every single hit being a single. LEGGETT: You know, I looked up at the scoreboard and saw we had 14 hits. And I was kind of piecing the game together. And I don’t care how they come. I think some of our singles turned into doubles because we ran the bases pretty good and stole some bases.
We did some really good things as far as pushing runners around. So I don’t know how that was much of a factor. I’m just glad we had some singles when we had to have them.
And the first part of your question was winning the first ball game. It’s always important. There’s no question about it. It gives you a boost in confidence. I think we didn’t play last night so we played today. So I think it’s good we get back on the horse and play tomorrow. I like that idea.
It will be nice to have a day’s rest, have your pitchers have a day’s rest. But at the same time our guys are in pretty good shape this time of the year. And we were anxious to get on the field last night, anxious to get on the field this morning. And the kids showed that, I think. I think we played really well.
But that’s just one rung of the ladder, one piece of the puzzle. We feel really good about what we did today, but we’re focused on what we have to do against Oklahoma tomorrow. They’ve been playing really well and has a lot of confidence also.
So I think we’ll just turn this one over real quickly when we get on the bus and start getting a feel for what we have to do tomorrow.
Q. Mike, the last four times you’ve faced pitchers that were hot, each time you’ve been able to go out there, get early success on them. Can you talk about that again today, you did the same thing. And also the way you guys are seeing the baseball right now. FREEMAN: Yeah, I mean, we faced a really good pitcher today. He went into it 12-0. We knew he was good. But that doesn’t change our approach. We faced some guys that are 11 0 late in the season, and put up some runs early against them.
So we don’t get intimidated by anyone. We respect their ability. We know they’re good. But at the same time we’re just as aggressive as we would be against any guy. So we don’t change our approach pitcher to pitcher.
We kind of have some certain things that we’ll look for, tendencies and stuff. But as far as today we just kind of kept our same approach. We were seeing the ball good. Got his pitch count up early, which played to our advantage, and got him out of the game earlier than he expected. And I mean, all our guys, we’ve done a good job all year seeing the ball well and kind of feeding off each other. When one guy hits, we seem to roll.
And when we got guys pitching on the mound like Casey and Alex did today, it just makes it easier for the offense that just to not have to score as many runs. And we just kind of get comfortable and do what we can when we get the opportunity, and guys stepped up today.
Q. Casey, you said something earlier about not really paying attention to some of the great numbers that their hitters have put up. Did you ever go back and take a look at their tendencies or how much of today was just you pitching your game and not pitching against them? HARMAN: You know, the past couple of outings I’ve had I haven’t really followed the scouting report. I mean, we follow it. We look at it. But you kind of play it out through the game. You go through the first couple innings throwing what you want to throw and you feel it out, what the guys are hitting well and what they’re not.
And you know, the scouting report can really only tell you so much. And you’ve still got to go out there and execute it. So it’s really just going out there and being aggressive like me and Alex both did today.
And you know, it doesn’t hurt when your team’s hitting well and it puts more confidence in us as pitchers to go out there and do our jobs.
Q. Alex, could you talk a little bit about your thoughts coming into that game, bases loaded, and then maybe the sense of relief of getting out of there with only giving up one run? FREDERICK: When I go on a mound I always have the same mindset, no matter what the situation. It’s go out, throw strikes. The atmosphere always changes. But as a pitcher, you really can’t change. You’ve got to go out, pitch within yourself, and know that our defense is always behind us, and be aggressive with everything.
Q. Just the fact that you only had to use two pitchers today given you’re going to have to come back tomorrow, how much did that help and what did you think of what Alex was able to do particularly in that first inning? LEGGETT: It’s very good that we only used up two pitchers. It’s big that Casey got us deep into the game. We felt like if it came to that point, that Alex was going to be our guy. So we had that kind of thought coming in if his pitch count got up or we got in a situation where we had some righties coming up. So that was a big deal.
And I think without question it helps that we only used two guys up, because we don’t have that extra day’s rest like everybody else does. So we’ve got to be ready to play tomorrow. We’ll have guys ready to go tomorrow.
Q. For everyone to answer. We all know it’s early, but what does it mean for you guys to send a team like Arizona State with their resume into the looser’s bracket? FREEMAN: It proves we can play with anybody. We came into the game knowing we can compete against any team in the nation and we played against some good teams early on in this season and played really well against them. So we just built that confidence knowing that we can compete with anybody and let everyone know that just because we might be the last seed here, that we’re not to be overlooked.
We’ve got guys on this team that are as good as anyone in the nation. We’re really confident in the abilities we have, and we have a lot of confidence in our guys, among teammates. And so it’s nice to go out there and prove that we belong.
So we’re going to keep doing that day to day. We’re going to come out tomorrow and have the same approach and get the job done.
LEGGETT: I feel the same way. Arizona State is a good program. Got a really good team great. Have had a great season. They’ve still got life left and they’ll come back and battle tomorrow. I have no doubt about that.
And our approach, really, lately has been to just play our game, not worry about who we’re playing. And I think we’ve done a great job of that, to be honest with you.
We know late in the season we’ve had to win some ball games to get where we are right now. We had to win some ball games at the end of the year against Florida State to win our division in the tournament. We had to win a game coming out of the ACC tournament to feel good coming into the Regional. We had the Regional, had to win the Regional after being behind, after losing the ball game to Auburn, after having to come back, and we lost the first game in the Super Regional, had to win two after that.
So nothing’s been easy. And last night was right along the same lines. We’re watching the lightning and thunder and all that kind of thing and knowing we may or may not play, and we’re over hitting, and just keeping our minds set, doing what we call MTA, make the adjustment.
If we play tomorrow night, great. Last night, if we played at 10:00 in the morning, if that’s what we’re asked to do, we’ll have to be ready to go.
But just because we’re in the winner’s bracket doesn’t mean that the tournament’s over. We still have to go out and compete and we’ve still got to go out and we have to win tomorrow and we have to play Oklahoma, who is feeling as good as we’re feeling right now.
But every day’s a new day and you can take the confidence. Can’t take any runs into it, and you can’t ever start feeling too good about yourself or you’ll get slapped right in the back of the head.
You’ve got to just keep on plugging one game at a time and not get too high or low with it. And just try to keep our kids loose and relax and confident. Because when we play confidently, we’re pretty good.
Q. Coach, when you talk about making adjustments, what kind of adjustments have you had to make with your bullpen? Has it gotten to the point where somebody’s getting out, you’re going to stick with that guy? Is that why no one really has a defined role? Is that kind of why Alex went three innings today? LEGGETT: Yeah, we’ve been this time of the year, this is how I feel about it. The hot team’s going to end up winning the tournament, whoever it might be. The hot team wins the Super Regional and Regional. The hot team at the end of the year is the team that you have to watch out for.
But also, your hot players are the ones you’ve got to play. You’ve got to figure out how to get them in a lineup. Chris Epps has gotten hot and moving forward for us trying to ride that thing out for a while.
And Will Lamb was hot there for a while and John Hinson got hot when he got his opportunity earlier in the year. So now we’re just trying to play and trying to figure out who the hot guys are.
Alex comes in, he’s hot. We don’t really have a closer, per se. We go down, bring them in the 9th inning. We been kind of been doing it by committee, and whoever is a matchup, whoever we feel is going to be able to get the guys out in the 8th or 9th inning, we’re going to try to stay with them. And it’s going to be based on their history and how they’ve been doing the last few at bats, the last few batters and the last inning and how that guy is feeling and how the pitch is coming out of his hand. And Alex was our guy today.
And there was a couple instances where we had Will Lamb ready for the next left hander or if things got a little bit tight. But he threw a great slider to MacPhee to strike him out at the end of the inning, we didn’t have to face Calhoun until the beginning of the next inning. So we were just playing it pitch by pitch and batter by batter.
Q. Alex, you come in bases loaded, nobody out. You showed a lot of emotion there coming off the mound when you got the strikeouts in the 7th inning. Talk about how you were able to bear down and what that felt like for you in that inning. And Casey, talk about when we got that strikeout, sort of what was going through your mind as he sort of saved it for you. FREDERICK: It felt good because we always talk as the pitching staff, we’re always behind you. And Casey knows there’s always somebody behind him and I know there’s somebody behind me. So I go out every time and try to do what I can to help him out when something happens, like bases loaded with no outs, to either get a double play ball or popup or something. I’m just trying to make my pitches and do my job.
HARMAN: I was really thinking, you know, as soon as you come off the field, there’s guys out there who like to sulk, you know, I walked a couple of guys, bases loaded, I’m coming out, no outs. That really wasn’t my approach. It never really has been. I come off the mound. I shake it off and I’m right there cheering him on louder than anybody.
And as a pitching staff collectively this year, we all know we have each other’s back. And that’s been kind of our thing. And when times really get hard for us, that’s when we have to bear down.
And I was just – I was happy for him when he got off. There was I was the first one out there to greet him. It’s not for the fact that he didn’t give up my runs. It was for the fact that, you know, we’ve got a three run lead going into the 8th. And I’m proud of him, and he knows it’s him that won the game.
Q. Casey, you really pounded the zone today. Talk about what pitches you had working for you and talk a little bit about the defense you had behind you today. HARMAN: I was really pounding it with the fastball. Kind of this game more than any game I pitched this season, I kind of worked off the fastball. And kind of both sides of the plate, keeping them off balance. I was working in my slider a little bit.
And the balls they hit hard were mostly on off speed pitches. So kind of made the adjustment and started pounding it with fastballs. And as to the defense, we’ve got a great defense behind me. I have all the confidence to throw a pitch at any time, not really be trying to be strike a guy out, but just knowing the defense has my back. And we’ve got a lot of great players out there. No doubt in my mind they’re going to make a play behind me.
Q. Casey, talk about yesterday and the kind of emotions you were going through as you’re watching the weather and then today just your routine, and I guess you don’t really have many four hour days where you’re supposed to go out and pitch. So just talk about that as well. HARMAN: It was a little stressful yesterday. Kind of you get your highs and lows. You get excited to play, and then you get right back down when it starts lightning again. You have just got to manage that. Kind of like our team saying, we gotta MTA, we’ve got to make the adjustment. Whatever we have to do, we just go out there and be ready. Get up early and go to breakfast and get here real early.
We just had to be ready and be energetic and come out with more energy than the other team had. And today we all thought there wasn’t a real good chance we were going to play because it was pouring when we went to take batting practice at Creighton. Luckily things turned out for us we got to play and we got the win.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
Arizona State Quotes
Head Coach Tim Esmay Riccio Torrez Raoul Torrez
THE MODERATOR: Now joined by Arizona State first baseman Riccio Torrez, third baseman Raoul Torrez, and Coach Tim Esmay. Coach, would you like to make an opening statement? ESMAY: I just thought that Clemson played a good ball game. They took advantage of some stuff early. Obviously they won the battle of the freebies today. We just gave away a lot of freebies.
Obviously Seth wasn’t on it, and we had some big ABs late. We just I thought the seventh inning was a big key for us, get bases loaded with nobody out and come away with just 1. It was a tough row to hoe.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Tim, could you just talk about Seth’s outing and what he might not have been doing today that he’s done so well in the past? ESMAY: Well, he wasn’t filling up the zone. He was not commanding the zone early. I thought Clemson did a good job of being very patient. They were making him pitch, making him throw pitches to the zone.
And he just wasn’t on it. He just wasn’t as efficient as he’s been in the past where he gets on it early. And I thought at some point he was going to get back on it. His pitch count was over 100 pitches through four innings. That shows you what Clemson did. They did a good job of being patient and when they got a good pitch they hit it.
Q. What did Coach Esmay say to you on the field? Looked like he was animated. Specifically what was the theme of what he said and you guys all kind of responded? Seemed like with a round of applause almost. RAOUL TORREZ: We’re a good team and we just played poorly today. There’s not a way around it. And for as poorly as we played, this is pretty bad, as poor as we played in a while. We were still in the game. We still put ourselves in situations to score a couple of runs, to scrape away at times. So it’s just trying to take what you can from it. For as poorly as we played, we were still in the game. We’re just going to take it one game at a time.
And we’ve got the right team to do this. So we’ll stay with it a game at a time and just play to play another game, pretty much.
Q. For both of you, was their pitcher better than what you expected, different from what you expected? Did he have better stuff? Just talk a little bit about how he more or less handcuffed you guys, especially with the first six or so innings. RICCIO TORREZ: We had a game plan going. We knew he was going to pound the zone away, the fastballs away, and changeups, varieties. I just think we didn’t square them up. That’s pretty much the only thing. We didn’t square them up like we usually do. We knew what he likes to throw and the way he throws it, but we just couldn’t square him up.
RAOUL TORREZ: Didn’t execute great at bats. You can look back and he did a good job also. We’ve done pretty well against left handed pitching all year long. Tip your hat to him. We’ll make the adjustments.
Q. Coach, how much do you think preparing to play yesterday and going through all that and then having to come in this morning impacted you guys in your performance today? ESMAY: You know, obviously you wanted to play yesterday and you prepare yourself all day mentally to go play. But when they said that there was no game, I think that’s a lot better than starting a game and then having to suspend it and having to come back. So both teams are in the same boat.
They prepared all day. We prepared all day. And I don’t think that was a factor. I thought we got a good chance to go home, get a good night’s rest. Show up in the morning and get ready to play.
Q. You guys haven’t lost consecutive games all year long. Can you just talk about what it’s going to take now to continue that and go the long way in this tournament? RICCIO TORREZ: I think it’s just taking it one game at a time and one inning at a time, not trying to look too far ahead of ourselves. Just looking forward to tomorrow’s game and take it from there.
RAOUL TORREZ: We’re going to come tomorrow and play how we’ve been playing all year long. That’s for sure. There’s a reason why we haven’t lost consecutive games back to back and there’s also a reason why we had the record that we do because we’re able to bounce back and we’re going to make sure that we’re going to be ready to go and we’re going to play for tomorrow, and that’s it. And we’ll be ready to go.
ESMAY: There’s no doubt that that’s been the mantra of this ball club. And the trust from us, the coaching staff, is thoroughly trust these guys. They know how to respond. They know how to play the game. They know this game’s over. There’s nothing they can do about it. They can’t get it back. You wake up in the morning tomorrow, prepare to play a good South Carolina team, and that’s just the whole idea of playing the game of baseball. Tomorrow’s bounce might be going different. There might be different things that happen. And we’ll deal with it as it comes.
Q. Do you take any kind of motivation or does it mean anything to you that Oregon State did something that you’ll need to do, which is to lose their first game, what, four, five years ago, they won four in a row then, lost their first game in the best of three and won the last two to win it all. Is that something you’ll mention to your players to say, hey, this is possible, this can be done? ESMAY: Well, it’s a double elimination tournament. And they just used their get out of jail card free tonight. Totally respect Oregon State and what they did, but the Sun Devils are looking at tomorrow’s ball game. You’re in the the College World Series. Last I checked, we get to put the uniform on tomorrow. We still get an opportunity to play, and that’s how we’re going to approach this thing.
Q. Coach, did you decide on a starter for tomorrow’s game yet? ESMAY: Merrill Kelly will go tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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