Brian O'Connor, Alex Tappen, Logan Michaels pregame media paraphrased ...
Media questions and answers, paraphrased as always...
Thrilled to be at this point. Looking forward to Saturday's game. Andrew Abbott will start in Game 1. I won't name a starter for Game 2 until later. We're going to take one game by itself and see where we're at and use what pitching we need to to win that game in front of us. We'll navigate it as we move along.
2 games away from CWS, what's excitement level?
They're extremely excited and proud of what they've been able to accomplish. That said as we talked about after we won the regional, these guys came here and part of the reason was what had been accomplished before then and the chance to play in a Super Regional. They know the level of the talent on this team and they're looking for opportunity to get out there and compete.
Previous Super Regionals, what lessons did you learn?
Take care of the game in front of you. Go out and play the best game you can right now. I've been in the process this week of sharing our experiences in Super Regionals in the past. I'm only sharing with them the ones that we won. It's a 3-game series. We talk about that a lot. If you're fortunate enough to win this series, the only one left is the National Championship series if you get there. No matter how it starts, it's about winning a series.
Dallas Baptist has some big numbers at the plate. Some teams last week with similar profiles in the regional. What were you able to do to limit those last week and how does that apply to this week?
I'm very familiar with their program. Danny Heefner is a friend. He and I are on the same All-American committee that selects players. They have offensive lineups year in and year out. They have power arms. There's similarities to someone like South Carolina and ODU. Just shy of 100 home runs. Speed as well. Guys that can swipe a bag. Multiple threats in the lineup. Starter that we'll face Saturday is 13-2. Who is 13-2 in American as a starter? He's got great stuff. This is where you're at. This is the way it is the rest of the way out. You're going to face versatile teams that can beat you in different ways and pitching staffs that are as good as yours. The teams they've beat are impressive. It comes down to execution.
Do you think coming off the high of last weekend, do you think staying in Columbia eased some of the tension and nerves?
Most definitely. Made decision immediately. If the players felt anything like I felt, I didn't want to get on a bus for 6 hours and then turn around and come back Thursday. Dallas Baptist played into Game 7 of a regional as well. It's not the ideal path. We've had time to bounce back and get on a consistent routine. I feel like we've been here for 2 weeks on the same routine. I know we're playing the early game throughout the Super Regional. That's what we did the entire time except for one in the regional. Good routine. Hopefully that helps us keep moving forward.
This week fun with the attention the team is getting? Added anything extra?
It certainly has. You're focused and want to be successful, but baseball is a different game. It's different than other sports. Football, you have a break before a bowl game. We just play so much. You have to enjoy it. They've earned this chance. They need to enjoy it and have fun. They've done that. Their performance on the field, they've enjoyed competing and then they've had some fun with it as well. I had four bowls of Dippin' Dots yesterday. I ate all the flavors and a second bowl of Cookies and Cream.
NCAA not the most nimble organization, but any talk about a pivot and allowing one of you to host?
That's unfortunate for the Dallas Baptist team and for Virginia. Whether we were in Dallas or Charlottesville, there won't be full stadiums. It's unfortunate for the experience for these two teams. I was involved in no conversations. The decision was made prior to our game on Tuesday. How they came to that decision, I have no idea. I wasn't involved in it.
Ever coached any character quite like Stephen Schoch?
No, not really. We've had some fun guys in the past. A lot has been made about the off the field part, the most important part is between the lines and he's a fierce competitor. He sacrificed an incredible amount to wear our uniform. If you haven't watched 'Uneven' on YouTube, do that. It's pretty remarkable. Schoch has been in our grad program for two years as an out of state student, scratching and clawing to make money to wear our uniform. Whether it is Instacart or landscaping, he's worked his tail off to wear our uniform. He's not the only one. That's a story across college baseball. I've got a great appreciation for what he's done to wear this uniform. I admire the work he's done to compete on the field. What he's done the last week or so, have been crazy.
I'm not sure momentum sustains through a 3-day break, but what about the confidence factor that carries through?
That momentum has been charging for us for about two months. It's been a slow, steady consistent climb. We swept the series against Wake Forest. We hadn't swept a series all year until then. I challenged the team that they had to learn to win three games in a row to advance in a regional. We have some great momentum. Dallas Baptist does too.
What's this week looked like?
We went to the zoo yesterday. It's apparently a pretty famous zoo. TV shows, movies, video games - things like that. It's been crazy, but a good kind of crazy.
How much was the ball carrying out of this park last week? When/why did things turn around offensively this year?
It's a smaller ball park than Davenport so naturally it will feel like it's carrying out more. It's a hitter's friendly park. Overall, countless meetings and getting together and back to our roots for what we do best as a program. Having faith and having trust was the biggest part. We all knew we were talented and we had expectations we weren't reaching, coming together to understand what we needed to do was important.
Do you remember when you started to feel it turn?
The Sunday Pittsburgh game. That was the moment where it was like 'OK, this is how we should be playing.' From there on out, it wasn't just one or two guys, it was the whole team. Huge turnaround. Since that game, hitting around .290 as a team vs. .220 before that series.
Stephen Schoch, is he like that all the time?
We've been talking about it as a team, we saw the interview first. That's just him. That's who he is. It's all organic. Then all of the sudden, you're scrolling through Twitter and it's everywhere. I'll be honest, I never got tired of that Dippin' Dots interview. I watched it over and over. It's awesome to have a guy like that on the team to keep everyone loose.
Have you reflected on where you are today compared to April 1?
It's been a crazy ride, a crazy turnaround. I can genuinely say I'm not surprised. If any group can do what we done, it would be this group of guys. I've loved every minute of it. It's been an unbelievable ride. We've set the tone since losing that Friday night game to Georgia Tech. We understood we needed to win pretty much every series to make it the tournament. Early, every was on edge and kind of pressing. Then we got to Wake Forest, it was like we have no doubt we can do this. The confidence in this team is just oozing. It's an awesome group to be around.
What role has versatility played on the team this year?
It's been the backbone. It's been unbelievable seeing everyone filling into those roles. Everyone understands their role and we're executing it. It's been so awesome to watch. With injuries and whatnot throughout a college seasons, they're going to happen. When people step up, it's next man up and that rings through this whole team. Seeing everyone having success, in many cases where they may not be comfortable so to say, it's awesome. I couldn't be prouder of those guys.
How surprised if at all by how Devin performed Tuesday?
I wouldn't say surprised with how he performed. He's a guy that gives it his all with his whole heart. I was excited to be able to catch for him because he's worked so hard to get to this point. He's earned everything. Super happy for him.
Does his path mirror the team's path?
I think so. We never gave up on each other. We knew the type of team we had. We could have thrown it away. We kept showing up and working hard. Team is super close to each other. We want to keep going and playing as long as we can.
As a team, what's all the attention this week do for the team?
It's been pretty cool. When you're teammates with guys like that and you see them on the internet, you're like wow you're famous and joke around with them. We're all having fun and playing loose. We're just having a good time and enjoying the moment. That's been a huge part for us. That's been a big part of why we've been successful.
Posted: 06/11/2021 at 2:05PM
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