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June 3, 2010

Columbia Regional Central

South Carolina

South Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner

We’re excited to be hosting a regional. It seems like it’s been a while; it’s certainly the first one here at Carolina Stadium. We’re glad to be playing this time of year, glad to be playing at home. I don’t know about these guys to my right and left, but I’m tired of practicing. It’s time to play.

On starting pitchers:
We’re taking it one game at a time. Sam will take the ball against Bucknell.

I know there’s a lot of speculation. We’re playing Bucknell. They fought their way into the tournament. Their numbers aren’t great. You have to realize at this point in the year, everyone’s 0-0. Everybody starts clean. They might not have been as good of a team as they wanted to be at certain times this past season, certainly that’s the case for us, but they have as much momentum now as they’ve had all year. We knew we would pitch either Blake or Sam in the first game. Did we maybe explore other options? Sure. But we are not an offensive juggernaut. We don’t score 12 runs a game. If we led the country in runs scored, playing at home, maybe you think otherwise on who your starting pitcher would be. That was the process. The realism of who we are came into play, and that was the decision that we were going to pitch Blake or Sam in game one.

On how his team practiced after the SEC Tournament:
I pushed them a little bit. I challenged them a little bit. Personally, I was agitated and aggravated, and I might have taken it out on them a little bit last Friday and Saturday. And I wasn’t concerned about it if I did. But they had good practices. I was somewhat surprised. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work. We challenged them a little bit offensively more than anything else. I think we got in some positive work. That’s all you can do. You can make an investment and try to get a return, and that’s what we’ve done. We hope we’ll play some really good baseball this weekend. We’re at the point in the season, just like Bucknell, Virginia Tech and The Citadel, where it’s really is about performance. It’s a short deal here. It’s a regional, not the best out of 10. The team that plays the best, pitches the best, gets clutch hitting, makes a difference. Hopefully we’re ready to go.

On whether he’s discussed Bucknell’s upset of Florida State two years ago with his team:
Not so much. I think it’s important that our team focuses on who we are, and that’s what I’ve tried to preached all year. You can’t do too much. You can’t dwell on somebody else. You have to do what you do and hope that it’s good enough to be victorious at the end of the day. We’re going to try to do some things offensively, maybe be more aggressive — going from first to third, maybe some hit and runs, possibly changing the lineup tomorrow — and see what works out. I’m not giving any thoughts to them with negative connotations. We’re trying to think forward now. We’ll discuss a few things, and we’ll get rested for tomorrow.

On possible lineup changes:
In a probable deal, (Evan) Marzilli will play tomorrow. I like what he brings right now. He’s come a long way in a short period of time, and he’s also a guy at the end of his freshman year. I’m not thinking that he’s a freshman anymore. He can really run. He’s got a little power in there. He’s more comfortable now than he has been all year. It’s not because of anything else other than he’s gained experience. I think there was some apprehension and anxiety earlier in the year because it’s his first time through it. But I think he feels really good. I can just tell by the way he’s practicing. I told him at the midway point that he had me excited. You’re going to be a really good player. You need to be patient, watch these older guys and learn from them, and when your opportunity comes, whether this year or next year, you’ll be ready to go. I think he’s there, and I’m going to put him in there tomorrow.

Back to pitching rotation and its affects on the team’s confidence:
It’s a feel-good mentality. Had we won 15 in a row, our guys might feel a little bit invincible. We don’t feel that right now. We’ve lost four out of five against very worthy people and outstanding pitching. I’m not crushed by that. I’m not happy, but it’s perspective. That being said, we don’t feel all that good. We need to win and feel good. I don’t want to put any apprehension in an approach other than we’re going full-steam ahead right now. That factored in as a part of it. These guys are young and very emotional. I feel we need to do very well in game one tomorrow.

On possibly pulling Dyson if there’s a big lead:
I’ll ask you a question: what’s a big lead? I don’t know. Blake will pitch game two. Sam Dyson and Blake Cooper are the two best-conditioned pitchers I’ve ever coached on the same team at one time. Those guys are in shape. They could go out and run a cross country meet this weekend. They train very well when a baseball’s not in their hand. Sam has the best chance of bouncing back if we get into a situation on Monday that he could pitch in relief, and that went into the decision as well. He’s in a little better position to come back if we play that long.

On playing at home for regionals:
It’s all fun. The opportunity to be here is exciting. We got home here on Thursday night from Birmingham. I was about as unhappy as one could be. That was tough. But we went back to work. Things got a little bit better. We thought we would be playing at home, then we found out. Then the bunting started going up earlier in the week and all the excitement and all the questions, and all that’s good. I know that coach Hughes, Jordan and Dupuw will enjoy playing in this venue. It’s exciting. I know they’re glad to be here. It’s all the right reasons to host and to be a part of an NCAA regional. The only negative part is a lot of people think my tickets are free. I pay for them, and they get them free. That’s not all good, but glad they’re coming.

Sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr.

On the matchup against Bucknell:
We’re not taking anybody lightly. You say Bucknell had an ERA of 6.00, well, Kentucky had an ERA somewhere around there, and they took two out of three against us. As everybody keeps saying, we’re going to take it one game at a time. Our bats are going to pick up. We’ve been through a little bit these past few games, but it’s baseball. Everything will work out.

On whether there’s any extra pressure on the team:
I wouldn’t say there’s any pressure. A lot of people are always putting pressure, expect this or expect that. You can’t take the fun out of the game. You have to have fun while you’re doing it. Everybody can say we’re expecting to win, but you still have to go out there and play. It’s not going to be given to you.

On whether the season has worn the team down:
I don’t think there’s a fatigue factor. We’ve been resting and taking care of ourselves. We’ve been through a couple of injuries, but we’ve been able to work through it.

Senior pitcher Blake Cooper

On rebounding from the early exit from the SEC Tournament:
Going into Hoover, we wanted to win a couple of games, unfortunately it didn’t happen. We really didn’t want to do two-a-days when we got back, but we came in with a positive attitude. We practiced two times a day and felt good doing it. We gained some positive things out of it. We got some extra rounds of (batting practice) in and it feels like we’re carrying some extra momentum going into the regional.

On whether this regional feels different:
I feel like we’ve played together as a team all year, pitching, defense, and we’ve had some timely hitting. It’s a little more positive for us playing at home this year. Our fans will be behind us. It’s easier to play at home.

You don’t want to take anybody lightly. Pitchers still have to do what they’ve got to do, and hitters have to get timely hits. The good thing for us is we’re playing at home. We’re a little more relaxed. I feel that’s going to be a big key for us.

On how changing days to pitch affects him:
I feel fine now. A couple of weeks ago I moved up a day; this week I’m moving back a day. I feel the same as I have all year. I still stay on the same schedule bullpen-wise, throwing and working out. I should be fine going into Saturday.

I feel like this is the reason you put in some good work during the offseason, so you can get yourself through the long season. We’ve stayed pretty healthy all year.

On if there’s a sense of urgency among the seniors:
We’ve got a few seniors on our team. Every game is important. I really don’t look at it as pressure, I look at it as an opportunity to do something good. Hopefully we can do that this weekend.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Head Coach Pete Hughes

We’re excited to be here. We’re representing a great college community, playing for a national championship with some great kids. It’s what it’s all about. We’re happy to be here at South Carolina. It’s close to Blacksburg for our Hokie following in one of the most, if not the most, beautiful venue in college baseball.

On his rotation:
Justin Wright will throw game one. Mathew Price will throw game two. And Jesse Hahn will be slated as of today as our game-three starter.

On thoughts about Carolina Stadium:
It’s the nicest college baseball stadium I’ve ever seen. Phenomenal. I think they did it right. I don’t think they missed a beat with it, and I’m excited to play in it. It’s awesome, it’s everything it’s cracked up to be and even more so.

On the throwback uniforms similar to the Houston Astros from the 1980s:
We just wanted to create some excitement or conversations about our program. When you’re trying to build some popularity with your program that wasn’t there, one way we did that was to get those throwback uniforms. We’re going to have throwback nights, ’70s-themed to try to get some more people in the park. It worked, because there are lot of people talking about those uniforms. Anytime Virginia Tech baseball is in the conversation, as far as I’m concerned it’s a positive. Our guys love them. It’s up to the guys (whether they wear them tomorrow). I guarantee they’ll vote for those things. I love them. They are our most comfortable jersey. Our kids play good in those.

On bouncing back with two wins in the ACC Tournament:
We needed to. But it didn’t surprise me, because I’ve seen our guys bounce back like that. They’re a pretty resilient group. I expected them to do that, and I was happy that it did go through. When you get such a great starting performance after a four-game skid from Justin Wright, it takes a lot of pressure off your team, and guys can get back to playing normal baseball.

On historical difference between Virginia Tech and host South Carolina:
It’s 2010. Historically, (South Carolina’s) the premier team in the SEC. Great tradition, great fans, great history. You look up there and see all those years in Omaha. Impressive, but as in changing our approach to winning a baseball game, it won’t factor in at all. It’s an awesome program. Coach Tanner is one of the best coaches in the country and runs one of the best programs in the country.

On what Virgina Tech needs to do to beat The Citadel:
We have to control their running game. Their running numbers are very impressive, very athletic. Starting pitching is very good. They will be the same team I competed against when I was at Davidson every year. That’s a tough group of guys, competitive, disciplined, won’t go away till nine innings is over. The Citadel is a good team. Their RPI is higher than ours. They won the regular season and Southern Conference tournament. It’s going to be a dogfight tomorrow against a very competitive group.

On Andrew Rash:
We were platooning Andrew a couple of weeks ago, and he’s continued to give us quality at bats and won that role, where we’re not platooning that left field/DH spot. He’s gotten better and better. I don’t want to ask him to do too much, because what he’s doing right now on his own is good enough. His work ethic has put him in this position to have success. We don’t have too many kids who work out like he does.

Junior outfielder Austin Waits

I’ve just heard a lot about this stadium and the venue. It’s beautiful. It’s the first time I’ve seen the field. They’ve got a lot of nice stuff here.

On the facial hair and if it’s team-wide:
It’s just a little bit of a rally beard. We’ve been winning ball games, so no point in shaving and messing the (mojo) up.

On whether the team is taking a different approach in the postseason:
The most important thing for us at this point, we’ve worked so hard this season. We’ve got the toughest part of our season out of the way already. It was such a tough road for us to get here. We’re already prepared for everything we’re going to face. Right now, we’re just trying to have fun and soak everything in, which is the most important part for us. When you’re playing for fun, that’s when you’re playing your best baseball.

On playing a tough schedule and getting big road wins:
That’s one of the things good teams fall back on, the things they’ve done in the past to prepare. We’ve played the best teams in the country at the toughest places in the country, and I think we’re going to be ready. We’re pretty excited.

On what you know about The Citadel:
From what we know, they have a really good starting pitching staff. They have some power arms and really tough guys. They are an athletic team that steals a bunch of bases. They put a bunch of pressure on the opposing team. We’re going to have to play solid defense and really good baseball.

Senior catcher Steve Domecus

I’ve never been here, but I’m excited to play here. It’s beautiful.

On the facial hair and if it’s team-wide:
I just kind of forgot to shave last night.

On playing a tough schedule and getting big road wins:
We’re going in business as usual. Everybody’s excited to be in a regional, but no need to change what we’re doing. We’re playing well.

On what you know about The Citadel:
I just heard we’re facing a lefty tomorrow. We’re just going out there to play baseball. That’s what we do every day.

The Citadel

The Citadel Head Coach Fred Jordan

We’re just glad to be here. It’s a beautiful facility. Hopefully we can represent The Citadel in a proper fashion. Our ball club doesn’t hit for power. We don’t hit for average. We’ve got pretty good starting pitching on certain days. The back end of the bullpen has been a little inconsistent as of late. Athletically, we have four or five guys who can run. If we can figure out how to steal first base, we’d have a better chance to score runs. This group has had an excellent season. To win our league from start to finish and to go undefeated in the (conference) tournament speaks volumes about their chemistry and unselfishness. We’ve been a pretty good team to this point.

On whether he recalls a week with such emotion, winning the league tourney and making NCAAs:
In 1995, we won our league and our tournament in four games. In 1999 and 2001, we did the same thing. But it was a different animal. The Southern Conference is extremely deep now. Our seventh seed won 37 games. Our sixth seed won 37 games. For this ball club to do that with that depth in the league is very, very impressive to me, especially with the expectations they had going in from the outside. It was very special.

On Brad Felder’s emergence:
He’s matured. He’s starting to figure it out. He still swings too hard in certain situations. But he’s very athletic. He’s had a good year, maybe not statistically from an average standpoint, but from a production standpoint. He’s had some very big swings for us.

On the call to throw Matt Talley on Friday instead of Asher Wojciechowski:
There was no discussion on Asher. When we decided to throw him on Sunday, then I told him he would go on Saturday, because we’re not going to do that. Besides, Matt Talley is pretty good, also.

On Talley’s pitching down the stretch:
Early in the year, Matt was trying to be too good. After a couple good starts but non-typical Matt Talley starts, we sat down and tried to figure it out. He didn’t have to do too much, just do what he’s capable of. His control is a whole lot better, and he’s getting ahead in the count. Then also, the warm weather, when you’re 6-6, that’s a lot of body parts that’s got to move. The warm weather has helped him greatly.

On the team’s attitude:
(It’s been) tremendous leadership from within the ball club, not only our senior class, which is outstanding but from Nick Orvin and Justin Mackert. When we lost McGinness and Jones as juniors, a lot of our fans went, “oh gosh, we’re not going to be very good.” A lot of the coaches did not give us the respect our team felt we deserved. From opening day, we’ve been very focused. We’re a pretty good weekend ballclub. We’ve got to get our midweek pitching depth better from a recruiting standpoint. They’ll show up and compete. They are pretty focused when it comes to playing games, and very relaxed. They have a lot of confidence. When we swept Elon at Elon, you could just see it building within them.

On whether the errors in the home game against South Carolina sticks with them:
You have to play clean baseball against great opponents, and we have not played clean baseball against South Carolina. They have against us. We made two errors at our place and two errors up here that led to six runs. It’s tough for us to score six runs against anybody, much less that pitching staff.

On whether playing in Carolina Stadium before will calm his team down:
As I explained to them after the selection, they were hoping to go someplace else. But after we were selected, they were fine. We’ve played in this stadium when it’s slammed full. They know what to expect if, and that’s a big if, if we get the chance to play the Gamecocks. Because we’ve got Virginia Tech, and I don’t know if you guys have looked at their stats, but I’m going to see if (South Carolina assistant head football coach) Ellis Johnson can come up with some kind of defensive scheme. I don’t know how we’re going to slow them down.

Junior pitcher Asher Wojciechowski

On how he’s feeling after the SoCon Tournament:
I’m feeling good. I’m ready to go and start this thing.

We’re on a roll right now. We don’t want it to stop. Hopefully we’ll just keep it going.

On distraction with the draft coming up:
It’s there, but I’m just focusing on the game at hand and what we have to do this weekend. I’m not thinking about it too much. What happens happens.

On whether any luster was lost staying in state for postseason play:
We’re just happy to be here. It’s a regional. Yea, we’ve been here before and been in this environment, but we’re happy to get the chance to play.

On whether they are motivated by being a three seed here after winning the SoCon:
We’ve been playing with a chip on our shoulder the whole year. People weren’t expecting us to do anything this year, and that kind of gave us motivation. I guess people don’t expect much from us still, and that just gives us more motivation to prove to everyone who we are.

On whether the early games against South Carolina are a fair representation of their year:
Those games are behind us. Right now we’re just focusing on now. Whatever happened in the season doesn’t matter now. We have to focus on the games at hand now.

Senior infielder Bryan Altman

On how the team feels after winning the SoCon Tournament:
We feel really good about it. I’m happy with the way we’re playing. Our defense and pitching are really good right now. That was crucial in our wins in the tournament.

We’re just glad to be here. Wherever we may have been, we’re glad to be in the postseason.

On whether they are motivated by being a three seed here after winning the SoCon:
It matters a lot. We’ve been playing tough opponents all year. We’re ready to go and want to win.

On whether the early games against South Carolina are a fair representation of their year:
We struggled midweek all season. It was offensively, pitching and defensively. I really don’t have an explanation for that. At least on the weekend we were ready to go. Hopefully we can continue to do that.


Bucknell Head Coach Gene Depew

On how prominent baseball Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson is on the Bucknell campus:
We have several tributes to him. Our football stadium is named after him. He was also an outstanding football player while he was on campus. We have a very prominent gateway near the entrance to campus that is the Christy Mathewson Gateway. His presence is very prominent on campus.

On the team’s scouting reports about South Carolina:
They are a very, very quality team. They are an extremely well-balanced team. Very strong numbers pitching-wise across the board with a lot of depth in that area. Solid hitting throughout the lineup. They have great numbers defensively. None of those things are surprising to have the kind of record they have and to be hosting this regional. Certainly, we have a lot of respect for them and understand the challenge we have tomorrow.

On the weekend’s pitching rotation:
We’re probably going to do what we’ve been doing most of the year. We have a number of right-handers that we’re going to start. Dylan Seeley in the first game on Friday, Trey Frahler for the Saturday game. We’re converting one of our other starters to the pen for situational relief in either of those two games. When you get to this format, you have to have everyone ready to go, be flexible and adapt to the situation.

On school’s resume as a giant killer in athletics:
It was a very significant thing for us. It’s ironic, because our school is completely over, so there was no one on our campus to help us celebrate. It was actually pretty quiet. The real fans appreciated the accomplishments. We just don’t get the limelight the basketball team got when they beat Kansas.

On difference in the team during the late-season winning streak:
We really felt we had a lot of potential on our team when the season started. We played very well in February and most of March, playing very good baseball and (building) high expectations. We just did not play well in April during the heart of our conference season. We lost a lot of close games. We really struggled with runners in scoring position. When that happens, you don’t win many games. Fortunately, we got ourselves out of that mold, and when we got to the postseason in May, the guys started swinging it again. We started getting the hits. Through our conference tournament, in six games, we hit 17 home runs. When you do that, that’s the reason we’re here. Hopefully we’re going to be able to keep doing the same thing in June. I hope it’s not a month thing.

On how the win over Florida State two years ago gives confidence to the team:
It’s certainly there, but Florida State was two years ago. There’s only two guys who are in tomorrow night’s starting lineup that were in the starting lineup back then. Most of the juniors and seniors were at that regional. We understand we can compete. If we can have a pitcher or a couple of pitchers step up the way Matt Wilson did two years ago at Florida State, I’m very confident that we can hit and play defense with people. We’re going to need our pitchers to compete and give us the opportunity to be in the ball game.

On how much he knows about how Carolina Stadium plays:
Very little. We’re going to find out in an hour. We’re probably going to have a lot of guys trying to hit it out during batting practice. We’ll see how it works out. We’re not going to go in and try to hit as many home runs as we can. We just want to make contact and have good at bats. It looks like it has the potential to be a good home-run park.

Senior outfielder Andrew Brouse

It’s a great experience. We got to be here a year or two ago (in regionals). It’s just a fun time. We’re down here to make the most of the opportunity and play some good baseball.

On Carolina Stadium:
Driving up, it’s an amazing facility. The field looks great. I’m sure the atmosphere will be amazing come gameday.

On whether he had heard of baseball Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson before Bucknell:
Prior to coming to Bucknell, I hadn’t. But since I got there, we’ve heard a lot about his great accomplishments, both in college and in the professionals.

On how they will be treated after upsetting Florida State two years ago:
People might have taken us a little lightly a couple of years ago. I think they’ll take us a little more seriously this year, especially when we’re having a much better offensive year this year.

On winning their conference tournament:
It was just a matter of getting hot at the right time. We faced some of the teams in the Patriot League a couple of times before that. A lot of our losses were very close losses. We knew we were capable. When the weather started getting nice up north, we started to play really well. The whole team brought it together. Getting hot at the right time was key for us.

On what it will take to beat South Carolina:
Hitting has been essential for us. Our pitching’s been great. We’ve struggled a bit both offensively and defensively throughout the year. Coming down here, if we keep the ball down, put some balls in play and make some things happen, we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing.

On what they know about South Carolina:
Not much, just what we’ve seen in the stats online. We’ve done some research. We’ve faced some quality pitchers in our four years and this season. I don’t think we’ll be that outmatched if at all. We’re just going to come out and play our game.

On whether the heat and weather will affect their play:
The other year, we had a couple of problems with the heat and hydration, but the temperature was pretty hot up north recently. We haven’t played consistently in it, but I think we’ll be prepared.

Senior infielder Doug Shirbman

We were at Florida State two years ago, and we’re glad to be back into the tournament.

On Carolina Stadium:
We took the virtual tour online. Coming down here puts it all in perspective. I’m excited to get down on the actual field and check it out from there.

On whether he had heard of baseball Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson before Bucknell:
Around Bucknell, he’s the big name, so you hear all about that.

On how they will be treated after upsetting Florida State two years ago:
I think we did sneak up on Florida State. I think they looked past us a little bit. Hopefully this year, we’re taken a little more respectably, and we’re able to put up a good fight.

On how winning the Patriot League Tournament gives the team confidence:
It definitely gives us a ton of confidence. Getting hot at the right time is what counts in baseball. When we started at the tournament, we knew if we played our best we could make a run at things. Thankfully, we were able to string a couple of hits together and play well, and hopefully we can continue that.

On what it will take to beat South Carolina:
I think we’re a pretty good hitting team. We’ve played some pretty quality pitchers along the way also. I think we can get a couple of runs, and our pitchers throw like they’re capable, keeping the ball down, we’ll be able to make outs and keep it close.

On whether the heat and weather will affect their play:
It’s so much easier to swing the bats in nice weather. It shouldn’t be too big of an issue. We’ve had some pretty nice weather recently, so we should be okay.