June 6, 2010
Division I Regional
Head Coach Jim Penders
University of Connecticut
It was very similar to our first game with Oregon. They did the little things and I know that they gave us some free 90s, they gave us more than we gave them, but when they had to make a play, they made it and we didn't quite do that today. They deserved to win the game and I have to give them an awful lot of credit.
We knew they were well coached, that is an understatement, Coach Horton did a great job with them. How about the defensive replacement that he put into the game in the ninth? I thought that ball was gone and the kid made a great play. I couldn't be prouder of the way that our guys battled. We spent a lot of the season relying on two out hits through our 22-game win streak. Two out RBIs, two out knocks under pressure and I basically blame myself for getting away from some of the things that we did in the preseason with small ball and being able to execute like Oregon did. We relied a little bit too much on the two-out knock during that span and that is all my fault. We didn't do a good enough job of playing one base at a time when we had to this weekend. I couldn't be prouder to coach the UConn Huskies.
It is something special when we talk to these guys about being part of something larger than themselves and when you can see guys from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s in the stands this weekend.
These players gave us everything they had, were the hardest working team that I ever had and are the most fun to be around. No matter what they will never be together again and that is the hardest part of the season. They will have reunions and hopefully gather at regionals and Omaha to root us on but the 2010 Huskies will never all be in the same place again and that is the hardest thing for me.
On recruiting now that the season is over
We are behind, Boston College has been on the road for a week and a half. I'm covering games tomorrow, we have to go out and get on the road quickly and actively and I have been thinking about that since the last out. I think it will help though. We have been hearing a lot from kids from regions that we don't normally hear from. I don't really care about the kid from Texas or the kid from Nevada, I want to get the best kids in Connecticut to stay in Connecticut and not only win BIG EAST Championships and Regional Championships, but National Championships because that is possible if you keep all of the best players from the state playing at UConn. Coach Calhoun has done it, Coach Auriemma has done it and even Coach Edsall. That is the goal now.
On his 2010 team
That is the thing that gets you. When you are competing every day, I just hope that for my sons and daughter they get the opportunity to compete every day and go to war. We talked about D Day in the huddle today. I said 'guys you are going to be a part of something larger than yourselves today. You know what happened 66 years ago today?' and Teddy Hurvul said 'D Day.' I said they got through the Nazi lines, you don't have to do as much today but we are going to get shot at and knocked down but you are just going to keep charging because that is all that you have done since August.' They got it, they understand. That is not to minimize what those people sacrificed 66 years ago. It is a very special group. I don't know how to describe the bonds except that we have all exhausted ourselves to get better every single day and when a group of people has done that together, nobody can take that away. If we went 0-56 we would still have that bond. As long as we exhaust ourselves everyday. I don't know how the three of the four of our coaches stay married. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. And we married saints so that helps.
On the progress made in 2010
We talked about that in the huddle too. We made progress. We beat a good team yesterday and won an NCAA Tournament for the first time in 31 years. That is something to be proud of and no one can take that away. We have won more games than any other team that has worn the uniform since 1896. Nobody can take that away. They should feel proud of themselves. I saw some heads hanging, but they have nothing to be ashamed of. They should walk out with their heads held high and know that they have gotten into what I think of some uncharted territory. We talk about winning championships and that is what it's about. Graduating our guys, reaching our academic potential, winning championships and becoming better leaders and giving back and that is what the program is built on. We took steps this year.
Pierre LePage, Jr., Second Base
On his at bat in the ninth
I was up there and they made that error so instead of the bunt that I was preparing to get down, I had the opportunity to drive two guys in. I was looking for a pitch, I hadn't seen many fastballs all day. I knew they were probably going to start with a first pitch slider and I just wanted to see it and make sure I got a good pitch to hit. With two strikes, I got another slider and got the barrel on it and like my reaction usually is when I hit a fly ball I wasn't too happy. When I was rounding first I saw the guy turn around and sprinting and I didn't know what was going to happen, I just crossed my fingers and prayed and he made a good catch. That is the way that baseball is. It's a game of inches and a game of anything can happen at any point. Oregon is a great baseball team and deserved to win today.
On the Oregon offense
They get a runner on and if they get the first guy on you know they are going to bunt. That puts pressure on you in the first place because you are looking at a guy on second with one out if you cant get the lead runner out. There were a lot of ups and downs. We struggled to get the guys in from second and third with one or two outs. We didn't have the big knock when we needed it. We didn't have that gapper that scored two or three. We hit a lot of balls hard today that got caught up in the wind that their outfielders tracked down. It was a rollercoaster ride. The team definitely lost some hair. It was two long games, a little bit frustrating here and there, but I can say that is why we play baseball. Because of those ups and downs and because of that struggling. It was fun.
On the 2010 season
It was awesome. This is a really special year with a group of special guys. I am going to take this memory with me for the rest of my life. I don't think I will ever be a part of something like this again. It took three years, while I was here, to accomplish getting to a regional and this was an awesome year from the beginning to end. Ups and downs that I wouldn't trade for anything. I wouldn't trade any of the players for anyone. We have 35 best friends on the team. It has been an unbelievable experience that I will be forever thankful for.
Mike Nemeth, Jr., First Base
On the feeling of being in an NCAA Regional
It is an unbelievable feeling. The BIG EAST Tournament is one thing, going in back-to-back years. But this is another level of action. It is more intense, every little bit means more. Unbelievable experience.
On the Oregon pitching
They were getting ahead. Both of the starters pitched off their fastball. Sometimes they had curveballs that just got over 0-0 and a much sharper one with two strikes. They did a good job mixing stuff up, but like Pierre said, they definitely weren't unhittable. They beat us, but sometimes you just have to make that adjustment and go get those pitches earlier in the counts.
On the 2010 season
I think everything we did was absolutely incredible. It was all positives, getting the name of the program out there, making a regional and hosting a regional is a really huge deal. That comes from so many angles too, getting the school recognition, other than basketball and football and knowing that we do have a good baseball team, a growing program, and stable coaches that love doing their jobs. And from a recruiting stand point, you want to play for a team that makes a regional so that will help get better players in every year and keep the program moving forward.
Scott McGough, Pitcher
University of Oregon
On the potential distraction of the delay...
The plus about coming to Oregon...I have learn a lot from him...find a focal point and it just helps you.
Right... Coach Horton has... we try to play Duck baseball. It is pretty fun to see other teams get frustrated. Whenever you don't give up that big hit. For awhile there we were leading the nation in sac bunts.
On Mendenhall's play in the ninth inning...
Right away, I made a really good pitch I knew the hitter wasn't a big strike out guy. I made the pitch and he is a phenomel hitter. I just saw [Andrew] Mendenhall run back and I thought it was going to be a pop up. He just kept going and got to the fence and jumped. There was a split second that went by and it felt like 10 minutes... he is just a freshman and coming into that inning and make a great play.
He's made a bunch of great plays. A few diving plays. He has been a phenonmel role player. Just a great role player.
The guy at second... alright. It was just trying to move the next pitch. It was pretty special.
I haven't had a chance to talk to him. I gave him [Mendenhall] a hug.
Justin Tempa, Pitcher
University of Oregon
On the weather...
I was the one pitching. At first I was a little frustrated... I played baseball like this. Watching the clouds roll in... we came into the dugout. Our coaches did a good job calming us down. Everyone just stayed calm... focusing on the next pitch, Using the tools we have been taught.
Basically two minutes after, I was told...'you are going to be going back in.' This is everything we could ask for... It is pretty special to get. Just being ready for that. It was pretty cool.
On play Connecticut again
None of the at... we knew that every single team is different everyday. For us, it was more about taking care of our business. We don't look at the history of teams.
On Mendhall's play
He sat all game... the second hitter of the inning he was ready to go. That is how he has been all year as a defensive preplacement. He has made big plays for us all year.
He said. He probably wasn't going to get over. He said it would have been towards the top of the fen