June 20, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Rob, can you give us an overview?
COACH CHILDRESS: You know, the game couldn't have started any better for us in the first inning. We were able to score four runs, got the big hit out of Brandon Wood and felt like we were going to roll and just like that the nerves got to us a little bit and we made some mistakes, just like they did in the top of the first and here comes South Carolina right back to it.
And it turns into an eight-inning game after the bottom of one. You think it's going to be a football score, but both pitchers settled in and pitched extremely well, and defense made some big plays.
Ross (Stripling) got out of a couple of jams; so did their guy and both starters did a very good job after the first inning. Ninth inning, let a lead-off double happen and just like that South Carolina came and took it from us.
Q. Ross, kind of take us through the rough outing at least the first inning.
Ross Stripling: Just wanted to come out and throw strikes and kind of deal with my nerves in the first inning, struggled with that at first obviously with the lead-off walk and gave up the hit, two hits back to back and then balked and kind of in over my head from the very beginning and just wanted to settle down as quickly as I could.
Finally, took to about the second or third inning before I really settled down. It was just really fun to pitch out there. I think I just wasn't quite ready for it, I guess, and then obviously they're just a good hitting team. And they went and took four runs from us right after we took four from them, and made it a game from the start.
Q. Coach, could you shed some light on your deliberations with your pitching staff in the ninth inning, did you consider sending Ross back out there and consider bringing (Nick) Fleece in to start the inning?
COACH CHILDRESS: I didn't consider bringing Ross back in. He was done. He gave us a great start. He was finished. Nick Fleece, we're not going to be able to extend him in a closing spot. Had we had the lead Nick would have been out there.
And Kyle Martin needed to go and hopefully give us three outs, six outs, see what we could do with him. But Nick Fleece was not a guy we could spread out over the course of seven, eight, nine outs -- just can't do it. When the runner got into scoring position, it was time to bring Nick in and try to give us a chance to extend that game.
Q. Coach, can you talk about what you maybe said to Ross? Ross sounds like he was nervous those couple of innings, did you try to calm him down, what turned around?
COACH CHILDRESS: Him just being an incredible -- he's grown up an awful lot the last two years in our program on the mound. And I think everybody's a little anxious, both dugouts and everybody on the field a little bit nervous starting their first game, but I felt he settled down, settled in and pitched really well. Start talking about eight runs in the first inning, both teams, but out of those eight runs I only think, what, were two of those earned?
So it wasn't just the guys on the mound that were a little bit nervous or anxious starting that game. But both teams settled in. It was a well-played game.
Q. Brandon, could you talk about your hit? And then talk about (Michael) Roth as you faced him in successive at-bats?
Brandon Wood: Well, offensively we picked up where we left off at Florida State. Got on base, strung together a bunch of good at-bats, helping with the count. Coach told me in batting practice I was going to hit triple today off the field. And he was right.
I wanted to jump -- I knew he was going to pitch me a fastball, he was struggling with command a little bit, and it was able to fall into place for me. I mean, he definitely got better as he went. I don't know if it was nerves the first inning with him or not. He definitely got better, had better command of the strike zone. His pitches were a lot more firmer, good breaking ball going.
Q. Coach, how do you get your team ready to go for an elimination game against a feisty Cal team now?
COACH CHILDRESS: This isn't the first time we've lost a game. I mean, we've lost 21 on the year and our guys have been very, very resilient. We haven't lost an awful lot in a row. And our guys know there's still tomorrow.
You get a chance to practice tomorrow. We don't have to come back and play a 10 a.m. game in the fact we lost and it's spread out a little bit.
So we get a chance to practice, get a chance to be together again. And Cal is in the same situation we are. There's no tomorrow. I know we'll get Cal's best. And I can tell you this, Cal's going to get our best.
Q. Ross, once you settled down and Roth settled down how much fun was that battle -- two All-Americans duking it out?
Ross Stripling: It was a lot of fun. I could tell what all the hype about him was about; he had a great change-up. He had some walks on the day, but he also seemed to command his pitches really well. He's a great pitcher. Hats off to him. Definitely it was fun going against him. Throwing up, I think we both threw up seven zeros in a row each, that was pretty exciting, and too bad it came out on the wrong side of the stick, but it happens when you're going up against someone as good as he is.
Q. In your conversation on the mound before the last at-bat with (Scott) Wingo, what did you tell Fleece about the approach to Wingo considering what Wingo had done previously in the game?
COACH CHILDRESS: Whatever I said, it didn't work. We didn't get him out all night. So we just need to be down in the zone. He would try to get a ground ball we'd been in that same spot a couple of years ago at Baylor on the road. It seemed to go our way. Everything has to work out in your favor for us to get out of that spot and it did two years ago against Baylor, and tonight it didn't happen.
Q. Can you talk about their bullpen? Because their bullpen obviously did the job. You guys didn't have a chance in the last or a good chance in the last couple of innings?
COACH CHILDRESS: We definitely didn't have a good chance, both guys came in did what they've done all year long did a great job. Their bullpen was better than ours tonight, it was pretty evident and those guys did a great job.
Q. Ross and Brandon, just talk about a lot of teams have come here lost the first game go to win the national title, just your mindset just facing elimination?
Ross Stripling: Personally, I think we're built for it, we got pitching and we got offense especially lately. Our offense has really gotten hot.
And obviously today we struggled a little bit just going up against an All-American, but we know we can hit the ball and we know we're built for it. We consider ourselves the underdogs, and we'll play like that, and Cal is, too, and it should be a fun game to watch.
Brandon Wood: I think South Carolina did it last year. They lost the first game to win it all. I mean, this team -- we've done it the hard way all the way up to here. So I figure we just keep on doing it. We played in the elimination game in the Regional. Elimination game in the Super Regional.
Q. Rob, do you feel like winning on the road as you did last week, do you feel like that maybe helps you as far as the mindset and getting through this?
COACH CHILDRESS: I certainly do. I think what we've been through for the last month has really helped our team, helped us grow and helped us get closer together.
And getting to the if-necessary game in our regional helped us, playing with that kind of pressure. And then again last week on the road in Tallahassee. Our guys didn't back down. I mean, from the first pitch of the first game until the last game. I mean, our guys will be ready to play come Tuesday, I can tell you that.