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May 31, 2012

Return To Thursday’s Press Conference Videos

Manhattan Head Coach Jim Duffy

Opening Statement
Thank you for having us. My team and I are certainly excited to be here in Columbia and have the opportunity to come down here and represent our conference, represent our school and represent our families and our team against one of the best teams in the country. Maybe I should say three of the best teams in the country. Really, me and the guys couldn’t ask for anything more. We’re proud of what we’ve done this year thus far. We’ve competed hard. It’s been a tough year at times. We’ve had to earn everything we have and everything we’ve gotten up to this point, so to draw the two-time defending national champions, I guess everyone was surprised but us that that’d be the way it would go. The one thing I will say about my team is they will compete and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played and play it hard. We’d do a disservice to our school and families and everyone that cares about our program if we didn’t. We don’t have any guarantees other than you will see our best effort tomorrow at 4 p.m. against South Carolina.

On a potential Clemson vs South Carolina meeting being the focus
It certainly looks like this region is built maybe for that winners bracket game of South Carolina and Clemson. I certainly can understand that. That matchup is big. Even though I live in New Jersey and coach for a team in the Bronx, I understand what it’s like down here in the SEC and ACC. I certainly do respect that. That being said, we’re not all that concerned about what the other games have to offer. My concern and focus for my guys is to be prepared to compete against South Carolina tomorrow. That alone we will certainly have our hands full. We can’t get outside of that.

On the three South Carolina schools taking a big part of the focus
We understand the reality of that. At the same time, Manhattan baseball, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this program starts making playing this time of year a habit. The program is strong. It is the top reason I was excited to come here and be the head coach at Manhattan because I knew I had the opportunity to win and the type of players I’d be coaching. We are a small school with a little less than 3,000 students. When we compare that to Clemson, South Carolina and Coastal Carolina, we are I guess the little brother. We understand that. I guess we can use it as motivation, but I don’t think I need to do that with our guys. We know our role and know what we’re capable of. We’re a small school, but we play pretty good baseball and we’re proud of that. What this does for me and my guys is it gives us an opportunity to show everyone that wants to pay attention to the Columbia regional that we’re a pretty good program and we play the game the right way and play hard and compete. The opportunity of this regional I think lies with us as far as what we can get out of it. That’s kind of where our focus is right now.

On the pitching rotation
I’m certainly not going to get ahead of myself beyond the South Carolina game tomorrow, but Taylor Sewitt will get the ball tomorrow against South Carolina. He’s proven that not only is he on quite a little run right now, Taylor has proven that he has the ability to for lack of a better term not shut down but pitch well and hold bigger powerhouse teams in check. He did it against TCU this year in April where he pitched nine innings and it was 1-1 going into the 10th. We ended up losing in the bottom of the 10th. He had a good outing last year in the Gainesville regional out of the bullpen against Florida and held Florida in check. I think our biggest opportunity tomorrow against South Carolina is Taylor, and the next day we’ll go with John Soldinger.

On Taylor Sewitt
All I’ve known Taylor is as a pitcher personally, but I’m good friends with the previous coach at Manhattan. I was hired in August and I’ve known Taylor as one of the pitchers but I also know a lot of the background of my players. I heard Taylor’s story as a high school shortstop and moving to pitcher. I knew Taylor had it in him. I knew he was athletic. His body is strong and he’s durable and he had the will to do something special. He’s a senior. He sat in my office before the season started talking about how he hadn’t had the opportunity to do much at the collegiate level and that’s all he’s asking for. I told him I’d give him an opportunity if he gave us a chance to win. He was doing that in the bullpen early in the year and we needed someone to start so we turned to him. How he’s evolved as a player is a pretty remarkable story.

Manhattan INF Nick Camastro

On bouncing back from a 4-17 start to the season
I can remember losing a game to Farleigh Dickinson and being on first base and talking to our first base coach Rene Ruiz and saying, “Coach, we’ll turn it around. Don’t worry.” He looked at me half-heartedly and didn’t understand what I said. We ended up turning it around and winning the MAAC championship.

On the atmosphere and national exposure of the Columbia regional
Last year we ended up playing on national TV in the Gainesville regional. All three of us were there. It was just a great experience. It’s a little nerve wracking for a small school to be in front of all those people, but we played decent last year and almost took a game from Jacksonville.

On his job to set-up the ballpark prior to practices and games at Van Cortlandt Park
My job is to put the lines down and the batters box before the game and spray paint home plate so we can see our plate. I take pride in it. I do it along with the shortstop Yoandre Galan, and it’s almost like if we don’t do that we can’t play. We take our roles, do it and then we win. We went 18-0 this year at home.

Manhattan C Ramon Ortega

On bouncing back from a 4-17 start to the season
As a team we never lost sight of what we wanted to do. We knew it would happen we just had to put it together. The biggest thing in the dugout is we never lost hope or gave up on ourselves or our coaches.

On the atmosphere and national exposure of the Columbia regional
We’re all excited and want to be here. This is exactly where we want to be. Last year will help us into this game tomorrow.

On his job to set-up the ballpark prior to practices and games at Van Cortlandt Park
I remember my freshman year coming into Manhattan, the first time I saw the field was the first practice. The respect I’ve built from the field, you can’t compare it. It’s our baby. It’s what we do every day for practice. It’s our park.

Manhattan P Taylor Sewitt

On his strong senior season
I’m definitely a little surprised. Going into it I was confident I would have a good season, but I wasn’t expecting to have the season I’ve had. This past weekend at the MAAC tournament was something special.

On the MAAC Championships game
I was definitely getting tired at the end of the game. I just wanted to go out there and gets outs as quick as I could. I was just begging my hitters for that one run we needed to get the win, and we finally got it in the 11th.

On his rise as a sidearm pitcher at Manhattan
I actually came in as a shortstop and kind of threw sidearm from shortstop. I switched to pitching my sophomore year and threw over the top the next year and a half. One of our assistant coaches, Rene Ruiz, had me start throwing submarine. I worked with Rene every night and kind of figured it out after that.

On the atmosphere and national exposure of the Columbia regional
Last year was more shock and awe. No one had been to a regional before, but this year we’ve all been through that now and are just ready to compete.

On his job to set-up the ballpark prior to practices and games at Van Cortlandt Park
Before every game I try to rebuild the mound as best as we can. We spend a couple of practices just raking everything off the field. We take a lot of pride in that. After all the work we do getting the field ready to play, we just can’t lose those games. After all we do, we can’t lose.