"We've made another change – I've switched sides of the rubber. I felt more comfortable. I'm hitting my spots well, and I'm getting the outs I need to get. We just wanted to change things up. Coach (Jamey) Shouppe and I talked about it, and he said, ‘You might as well just go ahead and change things.' This time of year, things are getting exciting, and you just want to go out there and be effective."
Q: Were you surprised that two of your teammates, Tony Richie and Daniel Hodges, were only named second-team all-conference?
"The first one that got me was Daniel. When they called his name for the second team, we all just couldn't believe it. I didn't even expect to be second-team – when they called my name, I was kind of shocked to even make that. To see (Tony) and Daniel kind of get screwed out of being first-team all-conference kind of lit a fire under both of them. Daniel really wasn't excited with the way he pitched the other day – he was kind of frustrated. But you know he's going to bounce back. He's one of the best closers in the country, and (Tony) is the best catcher in the country. For him to be second-team all-conference, I think, just kind of lit a fire under him, and he played very well this week."
Q: You know Tony pretty well, as a player and as a guy. He doesn't say a lot, but when do you know that he's ready to play his A-game?
"You can see it in his eyes. He's not a very vocal guy, but there's times when he comes out and he just doesn't look like Tony. Then, there's times when he goes out and he's hitting the ball, just hard. Even if he's getting out, he's hitting the ball hard, and he's into it. You can see it in him. It's funny – this is his third year now, and every year he just starts hitting the (heck) out of the ball. We were just waiting for it to happen. At Duke, I think he really didn't hit it the way he wanted to, but in the tournament, he had a very good tournament."
Q: How much credit does Tony deserve for the success of the pitching staff?
"People don't realize what a good job he does. There's time where an umpire may be giving you a little bit more off the plate than other umpires. It can take him one inning to come in and tell Eleven (head coach Mike Martin), ‘We're getting about two or three balls off the plate.' He tells us, if we need to make adjustments or whatever. The way he receives the ball, I think, is the best that I've ever seen. The way he just sticks pitches – his glove doesn't drop when you throw a curveball, he's able to stay with you. He's got a real good glove – I think he's the best catcher I've ever seen."
Q: You guys have had a great season, but you know you'll be judged on what happens the next few weekends, right?
"It's baseball. We lose a game – gave up six runs in the ninth inning. I think a lot of guys, when we were sitting in the clubhouse afterwards, expected Eleven to be upset, and throwing things. But you know what, he took his hat off and said ‘You guys are one of the greatest group of guys I've ever been around. For y'all to win 50 games is such an accomplishment.' That's just amazing – what we've done all-around, hitting, and pitching. I think he recognizes that, and a lot of young guys finally realize that, that it's the postseason, and it's time to play.
"We've got a lot of veteran guys who know what it takes in the postseason. We haven't been back (to Omaha) in a few years, but there's a lot of us that have just a burning desire – some of us, like Tony (Richie) who may not be back this year, that want to do it this year. I'm not going to be back next year. We have three or four seniors that are the only people on this team that have been to Omaha. We're ready to get back. We saw the pairings, and we thought maybe it would be a little different. But we're playing at home, and you really can't ask for more."
Q: What's different about this team than about others that you've played on?
"I just think that everybody picks each other up. If one person doesn't come through, the next person's going to. If it's on the mound or at the plate. Just this past week, the games we won, everybody made productive outs. In the Duke game, we're moving people over, we're hitting deep fly balls to score runs – it just shows what kind of team we have."
Q: How much of your motivation stems from a desire to win Eleven his first College World Series title?
"He always says it's about us, not about him. But I've been here four years, and I've seen the amount of work he puts in, and the desire he has for us to get back. You kind of feel bad for last year. He says it was probably he best team he's ever coached. For us to be stuck here, losing at home to Notre Dame, I think he just really couldn't believe it. I feel bad. I didn't come through – I lost to Notre Dame. It woke me up for this season. I've got a desire. I really didn't pitch as well as I wanted to this year, but as of late I've been throwing the ball well, and I really hope that I can step it up right now."
Q: This team really hasn't experienced any slumps this year. What do you attribute that to?
"Just the consistency. A lot of it has to do with our bullpen, I think. I think our staff ERA's around a 2.6, 2.7, and in college baseball, you really can't complain with that. My ERA's probably about the same as it was last year. Last year I was one of the leaders, and now I'm near the bottom. If your starters go out there and give you six or seven innings, and you have a bullpen that rarely ever gives up a run, you really can't complain. With an offense that gives you five, six runs a game, you're probably almost guaranteed to win every game. At least you're in every game."
Q: How impressive is that consistency, with the injuries you've had to deal with in the pitching staff and the lineup?
"With Eddy (Martinez-Esteve) getting hurt, we had to move Chris (Hart) to third, and (Bryan) Zech stepped in, and he's played great at second. Then, this weekend, to see (Danny) Wardell hit the ball the ball the way he did – every time he got out, he was still hitting the ball hard. It was very impressive. We wanted to save Eddy for this weekend, but if he's not ready, we've got somebody who can step in."