augusta free press news

Press Conference: Maryland

college world seriesMaryland Head Coach John Szefc Opening Statement: “I’m very happy for our guys and everyone who works for our program to be able to come in here and play the way we did against a very good team in a tough environment. We felt we did a really good job offensively early on to get their starter out. He’s obviously one of the better left-handed pitchers in the country and I know he’s had a lot of success here this season. I thought to get him out midway through was a testament to how good our offense has been this year. Our pitching was absolutely tremendous. Jake [Stinnett] probably didn’t have his best stuff, but he was close. I think a good judge of a successful pitcher is a guy who can battle and keep his team in the game when he might not have his best stuff, and that’s what he did. It was a tough environment and a hot day, a lot hotter on the field than I thought it would be, and in a game like that you make a lot of pressure pitches that takes a lot out of you. I thought he did an incredible job to get us through six innings. Bobby [Ruse] came in and did a great job, and [Kevin] Mooney is Mooney. He’s very reliable, comes in and pounds the strike zone and is the classic ‘bend but don’t break’ closer. Today was also our 40th win as a program [this season] and I know our coaching staff and players are very proud of that. It’s hard to win 40 games in a season. For our guys to get to that level and play like they did today is a real testament to where our group is and I feel really good about where we’re at and moving into tomorrow. We obviously have a very good pitcher going tomorrow and it’ll be all hands on deck in the bullpen again.”

On impact of the 16-pitch at bat early on in the game: “We preach to our guys daily to take something from the at-bat, even if it doesn’t end in success. Now that at-bat did end with a walk, but that’s still as good as an at-bat as you’ll see. That epitomizes our offense and our team. Not to mention that affected [Nathan] Kirby’s pitch count, and the higher the pitch count, the closer he is to being taken out.”

On the effect of Charlie White’s first inning diving catch:  “That inning was Charlie White’s inning. First, he got us going offensively. But that catch is as good as hitting a double with the bases loaded because he took two runs off the board. That may not show up on his offensive statistics, but everybody in that dugout knows how important that was. To get out of that inning and to minimize the damage as much as we did was crucial.”

On how big plays help keep the team’s momentum going: “I think it’s come to a point where our guys are so confident and playing so loose that they just expect to make those plays. That play that Charlie made, I’ve seen him make that before, so it didn’t surprise me. I’ve seen our guys make plays like that before. That’s the kind of stuff that we preach to them as a staff. Anybody can make those plays when it doesn’t matter, but let’s see you make that play when it matters.”

On team’s grinding style of play: “That was the typical game we’ve been playing lately. It’s the grind-it-out game where it’s not necessarily about how good you are, but about how tough you are. Maybe we did a little more to be a bit tougher than [Virginia] today.”

Senior Pitcher Jake Stinnett On pitching approach with runners on base: “In those situations, it’s really important to get ahead of the hitter. [Virginia] did a great job of battling today and there were no easy outs. To get those big outs, you have to get ahead and go right after the hitter. If you try to pitch around him, a lot of the time it won’t go your way. That’s just how pitching is, and you’re going to have success like that.”

On importance of White’s diving catch to save a run: “That was absolutely huge. That could have turned into a nightmare of an inning. Especially in that first inning, we want to come out there and put up a zero. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that, but it was an awesome job by the defense picking me up, just an incredible play.”

Sophomore Pitcher Kevin Mooney On pitching approach with runners on base: “Especially later in the game, when there are runners in scoring position, it’s so important to hit your spots. You have to focus on every pitch, and if you throw it over the middle they’ll get runs and it makes all the difference. I’d say to hit your spots is the most important thing.”

On how playing in front of big crowds in recent weeks prepared them for today: “I think being here this week, the crowd is smaller but it’s a tighter environment and it feels like the crowd is on top of you. At times, it got extremely loud and hard to talk to the person next to you. So being in front of loud crowds last weekend helped us to be in front of a crowd like this [today].”

Junior Outfielder Charlie White On his first inning, which included a leadoff double and a diving catch: “[Nathan] Kirby is a great pitcher and we knew that coming in. I just tried to stick to my approach at the plate and put a good swing on it. And the catch, I just got a good read on it and thought I could catch it and just laid out. It was great to get a double play.”