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Press Conference: UVA-Arkansas NCAA Charlottesville Regional

college world seriesUniversity of Virginia Press Conference

Virginia Coach Brian O’Connor Opening Statement: “Five out of the last six years, we have been in this position going into a super regional.  I am very proud. This week we had our best week of practice all year. Our guys were really locked in and ready to play great baseball. Arkansas has a great ball club, and a tremendous pitching staff, and we feel very fortunate to be the winners. I thought Waddell was spectacular tonight. He was in complete control of the game and pitched deep into the ball game, like all of our pitchers this weekend have done. That third inning was huge. Scoring six runs in one inning and giving us a comfortable lead allowed Waddell to pitch hard. There are different guys throughout the entire line- up that every one has confidence in. There were huge expectations going into the season and I am glad we played great fundamental baseball this weekend to win the championship. “

On playing Maryland: “I know a lot will be made of the fact that there are two ACC teams, us and Maryland, playing each other with Maryland exiting the ACC. We will address the series with Maryland in the coming days. I just want to enjoy this regional championship. I cannot turn the switch that quickly to start considering Maryland. I think it is important at this level to enjoy what we have achieved. We have been in the Super Regional five out of the last six years and I believe there is only one other team who can say that, so I want to enjoy that for now. When we meet again as a team, we will address Maryland, but they have definitely proven over the last few weeks and this past season that they have a special ball club.”

On pitching rotation: “It is about winning the thing. If we didn’t win this regional we’d be sitting here, the mood would be different, and we would feel like we failed. Unfortunately, that is level that this program is about. Our responsibility as coaches is to line this thing up and give us the best shot of winning this weekend. We will do the same thing next weekend. Those guys were tremendous. Artie started us off and was really dominant. Then, you can’t pitch better than Nathan Kirby pitched. Then, to think of Waddell pitching in the championship game. This guy was a Friday night starter last year on a team that won 50 ball games. We are really fortunate with the pitching that we have. Moore didn’t even factor in, but if you look at the bating average against him in our scrimmages, no one looked better than he did. We are fortunate that we have that quality pitching depth and it has served us well.”

On going into their 5th Super Regional in 6 years: “I am proud. I am really proud of this club. Every club is different. Last year was a team of guys who were unproven and second years trying to push it forward. This team comes in with enormous expectations and managed those really well. To be the regional champions here and to go into another Super Regional is consistent and speaks to he quality of players that were consistently recruiting, it speaks to the consistency of the assistant coaches who remained loyal to the program. I am really proud. I think in sports when you accomplish great things you need to enjoy this, so we will enjoy it and then look forward to next week.”

On Mike Papi: “Mike Papi has a very advanced approach at the plate. He doesn’t often swing at pitches off the plate. He is aggressive but has a good eye for what is a ball and a strike. I think it is easy to overlook defense. Mike Papi is a really good athlete. He has played all three of the outfield positions during his time here. He was a high school shortstop, and a good one at that. You have someone who is athletic, and has the feet and the athleticism over at first base to snag balls that are hit hard but also the footwork it takes around the bag. We are fortunate that we have such good athletes.”

On Virginia’s offense: “I had a really good feeling going into this tournament about our offensive ball club. A lot was made of it going into the season. Maybe we didn’t meet expectations but I was confident that it would come together at some point and I think now it has. Just the athletes we have, their physicality is impressive so hopefully this is something we can continue from an offensive standpoint.”

Nate Irving On the pitching “Phenomenal. I think if you look a little deeper than just the stats or the box score, the rhythm that we pitched at this weekend was really, really good. All three guys—Artie [Lewicki], Nathan [Kirby], and Brandon [Waddell]—got into really good rhythms and didn’t really come out of it. Baseball is a momentum sport and we were able to keep momentum in all three games and keep it on our side. That is a credit to our starting pitcher.”

On Mike Papi’s defense: “It is great to have an athlete like him over at first base. The three years I’ve been here, we’ve had Jared King and Mike over at first and those are two kids who are very, very athletic. It helps to have a guy like that over at first who has played multiple positions. He played the outfield and now plays first, too. So it is a credit to the quality of athletes we have in the locker room.”

John La Prise On getting up to bat twice in the same inning: “In the third, everyone was being aggressive and taking really good swings. Hitting is contagious. We went all the way through the lineup and I got up a second time around. When people are being aggressive, good things happen. It was just a good inning for us.”  On having home-field advantage: “It is awesome. The crowds have been great. We are really comfortable here and it is great playing in this atmosphere and playing on the home field. It is just a lot of fun and we really enjoy it. And we play really well here so we look forward to it.”

Brandon Waddell On Mike Papi’s defense: “I’d pretty much say the same thing from a pitching standpoint. When you have not only him but also everyone else behind us and with the team that we have and the fielding percentage that we’ve had throughout the entire year, it’s really been a big boost that really helps the pitching staff. You know you can, as a staff, go out and try to make contact and attack hitters and having that behind you, you don’t have to second-guess anything.”   On his mindset before the game “We viewed it as another game that we were going to go out there and attack. Not take in all the circumstances and all the situations from the outside but look at it as we’ve played so many games this year and we’re going to address it the exact same way and stick to our plan and what we do. We’re going to go out there and perform.”

 

University of Arkansas Press Conference

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn Opening Statement: “It has been a long day for us. First, let me congratulate Virginia. They have an outstanding team and are very solid. They can really pitch. They put together a couple of big innings against us the last couple of days and held us down offensively. They are going to be awfully tough to beat next weekend. As far as us, I think we ran out of gas a little bit. We were getting low in pitching. I appreciate the effort this team has given the last couple of months. There was a time we could have gone either way. We had a lot of new players and injuries, and our guys just kept fighting. We just kept winning. I think we gained a lot of good experience that is going to help us down the road. I appreciate the older guys for the leadership they have provided this season. I look forward to following some of these guys in their careers down the road.”

On how pivotal the 3-2 pitch to Mike Papi was that scored the first run in the third: “We were one pitch from getting out of that jam. It was probably a ball or two off. It was a close pitch and he has a tremendous eye. That is one thing I really noticed about the middle of their order. They really make you pitch to them. At the time, we were thinking, we were not going to throw a fastball, so we went with an off-speed pitch. It was give up one run on a walk instead of three or four on one swing. This way we were still in the ball game. It was kind of what happened after that. We didn’t make a play. They hit a ball under a glove and we make an error. Two base hits back-to-back. Next thing you know, we’re down 6-0 and we are in big trouble.”

On Nathan Kirby’s performance and Virginia’s pitching: ”Nathan Kirby is kind of special. He is the guy that every coach would like to have pitching for him on a Friday because you will be going into the weekend 1-0. Waddell, he is a little bit different. Not as much of a power pitcher, but he competes really well. He didn’t walk one of our hitters tonight. That is huge at this level. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see your number three guy.”

Brian Anderson On batting with the bases empty for most of the Regional: “I don’t really think about those kind of things. I am just trying to get on base whenever I can. If there’s nobody on base when I get up, I try to start something. My job is to get on and there is nobody better to drive me in than [Krisjon Wilkerson]. It can be a little frustrating at times. The other guys, the effort was there. The balls that I hit found holes. That’s how it was.”

On what he will remember about the season: “I am proud of my guys. I am proud to say that I competed with each and every one of them. None of our guys gave up. That was kind of the attitude that we had. Even in the end, we thought we were in this one. The way these guys competed, they fought to the end of every game.”

Krisjon Wilkerson On what Brandon Waddell was throwing and his two-run home run: “He did a good job of mixing pitches. He kept the hitters off balance. Fastball. Change-up. With two strikes, he threw a slider and left it up a little bit and I got a good swing on it.”


augusta free press
augusta free press