June 4, 2010
Division I Regional
Head Coach George Horton
June 4, 2010
Head Coach George Horton
The growth and maturity of this team and the maturation of this team has been pretty significant and to come all the way out here on the East Coast and play a great UConn team. I commend them. I heard they were really good and they're everything I heard they were everything they were and maybe better. Great athletes. They kept good pressure on us and our pitching staff, which is the strength of our team, kept dodging bullets. After the two runs, just kind of kept getting zeros it worked out in our favor and we were able to create a three-run inning in the ninth. We did it our fashion, the way we do it with the inside game, putting the ball in play. I felt like we were a little fortunate there and like good clubs do we didn't think they were going to go one-two-three and we had Madison Boer out there luckily we held them at bay and got it done. We are awful excited. We would like congratulate UConn. I have a feeling our paths will cross again in this tournament.
The story of the game as it was and probably the reason we are here was on the mound. With Coach Checketts and the pitching staff and obviously the defense behind and I thought Eddie Rodriguez caught a great game. I thought we play a good catch behind our pitch
On the emphasis of bunting
KC [Cerna] was thinking about bunting in the at-bat that he hit the home run the third basemen came in and took it away. Our players have bought into a lot of things, that we have asked them to buy into and trust it. One of the issues because we were so far away last year, having the kind of hitters with aluminum bats to create runs. Coach Kirby, my assistant coach and our bunting coach these guys with his help and direction. They have totally bought into it. I think they believe in it, it is not that they can only bunt, but it is nice to have that weapon in your bag of tricks especially in Regional play. When you are facing great defensive clubs and great pitching at this stage of the season. Sometimes you need a Plan B you can go to it is nice luxury to say you are going to steal bases and hit homeruns, but it is not that east to do against Regional opponents. I tip the cap to the players they are the ones who invested the time and energy with Coach Kirby's direction. I think they all believe in it, luckily we didn't bunt with KC ended up a two-run home run and that obviously gave a huge lift.
On Zach's starting a little shaky
Even me, we talk about tools and you heard these guys talk about excitement and the breath and the routines. Old Coach Horton has had some experience and I apologized to my team because I might have been one of the most nervous guys in our dug out. Zach was a little out of character, especially early and I thought...I don't call pitches, Coach Checketts does that I know he was elevating on purpose sometimes and sometimes he did that and UConn made him pay. Usually got pinpoint command, he doesn't walk anybody and he pitched to both edges of the plate with all three of his pitches. Young men get over excited, I thought he just over excited. Just like KC said, he used his tools, even when he hit a batter or they were on a verge of making it really difficult with a crooked score. Zach was able to get back to it and make a pitch... that is all you can ask of an athletes. You can't ask them to be perfect, but to just get to the next pitch.
KC Serna, Shortstop Oregon University
On the focus of getting you out specifically
Knowing that we are always in that situation we bring Scott McGough usually to do that job cause he bounces off the mound really well. In a tight ball game like that, they are always going to try to get the lead runner. So when I saw the both the first basemen and the third basemen crash when I on first when Jack Harder laid down his bunt, I knew had to get a good extention and I got my good extention. He l laid it down and I barely beat it out. On Eddie [Rodriguez]'s, same situation I knew they were going to try to either get an out... I just took a good extention and Eddie got the job done, got to the drop zone another bang-bang play on third.
On the emphasis placed on bunting
In pregame we put a lot of emphasis in workin on our bunts and seeing the ball hit the drop zone. Kirby has worked with us all year hard on it we have our PEA where go up and do extra work. We do a lot of extra bunting up there. I feel like it pays off when you put in all the hard work in and believe in the coache sand trust what they are saying and teaching us It obviously paid off today and it has been fun.
On thinking before the two-run at-bat
I did all of my thinking before I went up to the plate before... I didn't even say, like 'am I going to bunt?' 'I said 'Hey, yeah.' Pretty much am I going to bunt if he gets on. I mean the third basemen came in and took it away. He said catch one and he is probably going try to aim right here. I just put a good swing on it and got lucky. I honesetly didn't think it was going to go out, but the ball carried it a little bit. It was good to switch it up a little bit.
On the redemption after the field error
Our infield Coach Jay Uhlman always tells us get to the next pitch. I think that is the biggest thing that all of us have done this whole year. After making an error, just get to the next pitch, just get over it because you can't... you got a lot more ball game to go. You look the pitcher in the eye and go 'pick me up now because I got you the next time.' It felt good, yeah... but I was already over it.
Zach Thorton, Pitcher University of Oregon
On maintain focus with the crowd
I mean you try, especially on the mound, regardless of which way they are cheering, you try and tune it out. Either they are ragging on or they are trying help you focus it in and lock you in. Usually when they are up on there feet I try and pull my cap down a little bit, just try and ignore them. Anytime the crowd is real loud your pulse pumps a little bit and you try and relax and just do what you can.
On difficulty of focusing with base runners
That was a new experience too, in the wind up. I kind of just didn't think about them at all. When they got onto to third people were telling me don't let them fake you into balking. I just tried to ignore them completely.
University of Connecticut
Head Coach Jim Penders
First I was proud of the way that we competed. We are not used to that kind of atmosphere and we came out and I thought we forced the pace of the game and really forced some action early and did a pretty good job with our bats early.
The fifth inning was a key point. John Andreolli leads off with a double, Pierre [Lepage] gets him over and we just cant get him in. The game might have been a little different and you might have seen some guys on the mound in the sixth and seventh that are different than we wound up doing it if we had gotten the run there. We were going to squeeze on the next pitch, and we just didn't get there. I thought that was a turning point because we had a leadoff walk in the next inning and its going to get you. When you have the leadoff double and you don't score him and then wind up with a four-pitch walk and a homerun and it's a new ball game.
We forced action and I felt that we were going to win the ball game up until the absolute last strike of the game.
On the bunt plays in the ninth
I thought the second bunt play was a greater risk than the first one, I thought that Scotty [Oberg] kind of bobbled it, at least that is what I thought I saw. Once you bobble you have to go to one. The first one, I would have preferred a one call, but Joe [Pavone] is in there, he made a decision and he is supposed to execute it and it's just a tough play. He had his weight going hard into the plate and it was a difficult play to make and he had something on the throw, just not as much as I would have liked. The ninth inning was our ugly inning, but I thought we could have made that a lot different if we executed a little bit.
On Greg Nappo
I thought Nappo was awesome today. I thought that he rose to the occasion, that leadoff walk bit him in the rear end - they always seem to - but I thought he pitched brilliantly. It was special watching him. The progression that he has made since his junior year in high school when we first saw him has been special to watch and that is what it is all about. Seeing a guy get an opportunity to do something great and I thought he was pretty darn close to great today.
On his appreciation of the UConn fans
I want to thank the fans of Connecticut. I thought it was a really special atmosphere. I was proud of the way that our kids competed in it. I just want to thank the people, they don't have a scoreboard telling them how to cheer, they were just instinctive and trying to will us on. We are so appreciative of everyone coming out tonight. I told the kids when they were coming off the bus, 'you look every single little kid in the eye and you give them an autograph I don't care if it is five minutes before the game.' We were going to do this right. We had a great crowd and a lot of people behind us and we are going to enjoy the heck out of this and have fun and I thought that we did have fun until that ninth inning. The buzz in the ball park and the way that the fans were for us was just something awesome and it just goes to show that the people in Connecticut are hungry for college baseball too and they should be really proud of themselves. The NCAA should look at that and say this is rich ground for college baseball too. It is not just south of the Mason-Dixon line and west of the Rockies.
Mike Nemeth, First Base
University of Connecticut
On the bunt play
The bunt was fairly hard and I heard two right away and I thought that we had a shot. It is tough to spin there because you are blind, I thought we had a shot so I took it but he beat us by a half a step.
On Greg Nappo
Nappo has been there for us all season. He has been one of the guys that we know is going to go late in the ball game and throw strikes. It is a big park and I thought that Nappo was going to be a good match up against them and he was. One ball squeaked out of the park and we just needed to get more runs and come up with a few more timely hits for him to get him that win because he deserved it.
On his home run
It was nice. You cant really get any closer to foul than that. Luckily that one stayed up and barely got the top of the foul pole. It was pretty cool.
On the bunt plays
We work on it so much in preseason that it is almost second nature. As soon as you hear that call you go there, in both of those situations. In both of those cases you are blind turning too so you have to rely on what you hear, but we work on that plenty during the season and both times we were beaten by half a step.
Pierre LePage, Second Base
University of Connecticut
On the crowd
We were really excited to come out here and play in front of all of these people. We don't exactly get this kind of crowd in Storrs so it was a nice change and we came out ready to play with all of the energy in the world. Like coach said, up until that last inning. It was fun seeing everyone from Connecticut out here supporting us and behind us and giving us everything they had.
On tomorrow's game against Central Connecticut
Central has a great team and it is nice that we get to see them again because we have a history with them. They are a great ball club and they deserve to be here too. We have to come out tomorrow with a lot of fire and we need to fight our way back from the loser's bracket. We showed that we were able to do that in the BIG EAST Tournament and that is what we plan to do. We are going to come out tomorrow and play our hearts out and try to keep this season moving on.
On Greg Nappo
Greg [Nappo] pitched unreal. He really pitched his heart out and made just one mistake. There were maybe three or four balls that were hit hard but that was just one that happened to carry. A ton of ground ball outs, a ton of fly outs and he made some pitches to strike guys out too. He absolutely pitched great.