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CWS press conference -- What they said

SEC rivals Tigers and Gators tangle for the national championship in the best-of-three National Championship Series

Opening statements

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“Well, I just want to congratulate all the other teams that have played in the World Series. It's been a difficult field, a great field, a real complete field.

“We feel very fortunate to be where we're at right now. Obviously we've started to swing the bats a little bit better. Our starting pitching and defense has been outstanding.

“And obviously want to congratulate LSU. They've had a great year. We're very familiar with them. It's going to be a tall task ahead of us. But we're excited to be here. And there's two teams left, and I think it represents the SEC very well. We're excited to be able to play a couple more games.

PAUL MAINIERI

“I'd like to echo Kevin's statement about the teams that came to the College World Series. You know, everybody but one team ends up being disappointed at the end because only one team gets to leave having one the last game of the year.

“All the teams that make it to the College World Series have won an awful lot of big games to get to this point, and they should never consider themselves as failures.

“With that said, we're thrilled to be in the Finals here. And if the truth be told, I was rooting for Kevin and the Gators last night. I just think it's an awesome thing that these two SEC schools get to play for a national championship. Probably the only person that's happier than you and I, Kevin, is Greg, the commissioner of the SEC. He's anxious to get up here and get behind home plate so as not to show any favoritism.

“Kevin and I coached against each other for several years. He came to Florida after I came to LSU. And we've had so many great ballgames through the years.

“And despite the fact that we've competed very hard against each other, I like to think that Kevin and I have an awful lot of mutual respect. I know I sincerely like Kevin and consider him a friend in the business.

“And they always have outstanding players. Those two guys sitting next to him we're all too familiar with. They're both outstanding. Both teams are loaded with great ballplayers.

“My kids are excited about the fact that we got to the Finals here and that we're going to get another chance to play Florida. I'm sure everybody knows one of the story lines, we tied for the regular season title. We were hoping like crazy we could play Florida in the finals of the SEC Tournament. Didn't quite work out that way. I think Arkansas had something to say about it in that semifinal game.

“But this is a great thing for us to play each other here in Omaha, and I know both teams are going to play their hearts out. Even though there will only be one winner at the end, I think both teams are very deserving of being here, and I think we'll have great ballgames.”

Question: Kramer, I know you guys struggled against Brady the first time you guys went up against him. What made him so difficult there?

KRAMER ROBERTSON

“I think a lot of people struggle against Brady. He's one of the best pitchers in the country. We've seen him two years now and haven't had a lot of success off of him. Not many people have.

“So we know we're going to have our hands full. We're going to try to have the best at-bats possible against him. We've got a great offense. And they've got a great pitcher on the mound. So something's gotta give. We're going to go out there and battle to the best of our ability off one of the best pitchers in the country.”

Q: Could you comment on facing a familiar foe. Clearly you guys know each other and have seen each other over the years?

JJ SCHWARZ

“I mean, I'd say I'm pretty indifferent about it. I feel like both teams have a lot of information on each other, so I feel like it weighs out in the long run.”

BRADY SINGER

“SEC showdown, it's go

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ing to be a lot of fun. I'm excited to get out there and play. Just like JJ said, we have a lot of information on each other, and we're like really good teams.”

JARED POCHÉ

“Yeah, I think it just comes down to execution. Like they said, a lot of information is out on both of us. So I guess whoever gets the job done in big situations will come out on top.”

KRAMER ROBERTSON

“Just like SEC weekend, just more at stake. Both teams have great players, great pitchers, play really, really good defense. So both teams are here for a reason. And it's going to be who goes out there and gets the job done.”

Q: Does it cheapen it in any way, would you have liked to have seen somebody else on this stage? Is it easier? I guess you said you're indifferent about it, but...

JJ SCHWARZ

“I mean, I don't really know how to answer that. I mean, we would love to play the LSU Tigers in the Finals of the College World Series. So I think that's a really cool matchup for us. And I think that speaks a lot about the SEC.”

BRADY SINGER

“Yeah, I think I did want to face LSU. Obviously want both SEC teams in the Finals. It comes out to who executes and who plays the best.”

JARED POCHÉ

“I mean, yeah, now 100% chance that an SEC team is going to win it. So that's good.”

KRAMER ROBERTSON

“We're excited about playing another SEC school. They're a great team. And like we've been saying, we're familiar with each other. And I think this is how it had to be. It's kind of ironic we had to play an SEC team in the Super Regional, now the National Championship Series. So it had to be this way. And if you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best. And I think both teams are happy with who is in the Finals.”

Q: Just how have you seen your teams grow from the point where you guys played each other a few months back, and does that series really have any bearing on what you guys will do the next three days?

KRAMER ROBERTSON

“I think we're both vastly different than we were. Both teams are playing a lot better than we were at that point in the year.

“They had some injuries and had the injury bug when we played them and didn't have their full team. And we really didn't have the emergence of Zach Watson and Michael Papierski and still didn't have hats in the bullpen. I think both teams are stronger at this point in the year than we were when we faced last time.”

JARED POCHÉ

“Great teams always tend to play better as the season progresses. Like Coach always says, we're going to be a better team in February, in March than we were in February and so on. And so with all of the experience that we've gotten throughout the entire season, all the freshmen on both teams are not considered freshmen anymore. They have a whole season of experience. So I think that is a big difference in the game, just how much experience each team has now.”

BRADY SINGER

“I think we're both better than what we faced in the regular season. Their offense is really good. Our offense is coming around. I know we both can pitch. But I think we're both hot right now.”

JJ SCHWARZ

“Yeah, I mean, I also think we're both very different teams and we both have lots of different dynamics. But at the same time that series has no bearing on this series and there's a lot more at stake for this one.”

Q: Jared and Brady, seems like a lot of balls are leaving the yard here this year, and it's been a trend in college baseball this year with more home runs. Is that something you guys are aware of? Is that something you try to pitch against? And have you noticed the kind of uptick in that this year?

JARED POCHÉ

“I've definitely noticed it in the tournament. I have given up three last starts. So I wasn't too good. Nothing you -- you can't pitch afraid or anything. Attack the zone. Strike one is the most important pitch. And just gotta go after hitters. And when the ball happens to leave the yard, you tip your cap to that guy. But you just gotta continue to pound the zone and trust yourself.”

BRADY SINGER

“Yeah, like Jared said, you can't pitch scared. Just gotta stay low in the zone and pitch to your strengths. And, yes, the ball is leaving the yard, but that's part of baseball. Just try to keep it low. They've got a bunch of power hitters. Just pitch to win.”

Q: JJ, your third trip here; Brady, your second; Sully, your sixth. What have you guys learn from your previous trips that maybe helps you this year?

JJ SCHWARZ

"I would just say the emphasis on the little things. That's something we've been focusing on all year, from the start of practice in the fall. It's going to come down to execution, like we've already mentioned, and bunts, moving runners, making pitches, things like that.”

BRADY SINGER

“I learned to win the first two games to ultimately get here. But just like JJ said, execute the little things. Kind of keep doing what we're doing all year, not trying to do too much. It's a big park. A lot of fans. But just gotta stick to your strengths.”

Q: JJ and Kramer, kind of opposite what Luke said about the home runs going out, for you guys as hitters, assuming you grew up watching Rosenblatt and seeing balls jump out of there, the first couple of years here hitters struggled in this park, but now looks like the college baseball of old. Is it more fun for the game and more fun for you guys?

JJ SCHWARZ: Yes, best part of baseball is hitting home runs. I'd say yes. It has a lot to do with the wind. The wind has been howling out this whole week. It's good for baseball. It's good for fans. It's good for momentum swings, things like that.”

KRAMER ROBERTSON

“I think the home run is really good for college baseball and for baseball in general. I mean, I can't speak to hitting home runs as much as JJ can, I don't have as much power as he does. It's not really my game. But I think it's good. I think yesterday you saw what a momentum swing he gave us when Michael hit his first home run. Gave us some breathing room. And it can change a game quickly. So we have to be aware of that and know that the ball's flying more this year and more here than it ever has before. So no lead is safe. And if you're behind on offense, you know that you can change the game with one swing of the bat.”

Q: Jared, what do you think starting the last game of your career in the Championship Series, chance to go for 40 wins, and will that be on Monday or Tuesday, can you tell us?

JARED POCHÉ

“I'm not sure when my name's going to get called, either Monday or Tuesday. But as far as ending my career, I mean, you can't go out any better way. It's gotta end eventually towards the end in Omaha in the College World Series. You know, it's what every college pitcher would hope for. It's what every baseball player would hope for. I just hope that we can have a good showing. And whatever happens, it's what's meant to be, and it's all part of the good Lord's plan.”

Q: Could you talk about the importance of picking up your teammates? Seems like no matter how successful you are you'll need somebody to carry you throughout this tournament, and yesterday we saw that from some guys.

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KRAMER ROBERTSON

“I think that's what great teams do. We've done it all year and we continue to do it here in Omaha. It's going to be somebody different every day, seems like, to step up. If one guy doesn't have it, somebody else is going to pick them up. And I'm sure Florida is the same way, and that's why we're the last two teams standing. You can't go out there and rely on one or two guys if you want to make it this far. You have to have everybody ready off the bench, everybody, 1-9, in your lineup and in the bullpen ready when their name is called to be able to contribute.”

JARED POCHÉ

“That's what great teams do. I imagine it being really fun for these two coaches before each game just wondering who is going to get the job done today. I know for me as a pitcher, I know I'm not pitching that day, it's just fun to watch those guys go out there and who is going to get the job done today, is it going to be Pap going from both sides of the plate or Beau Jordan or Zach Watson or Greg Deichmann, anyone like that. Any one of those guys can take over a game, and it's a lot of fun to watch.”

Q: Brady, can you go back through your start against LSU in Gainesville, what went well for you that day and just kind of go from there?

BRADY SINGER

“I think I got in a pitch countdown with the whole game. Just got in a pitch countdown, kept it slow. Obviously they can hit the ball a little bit. So kept the ball low and threw to both sides of the plate and had the slider and changeup working. And honestly just pitched to my strengths. Got a lot of ground balls, and that's about it.”

Q: Jared and Kramer, considering LSU's history at this time in this tournament, what does it mean to you to be part of that, to have a chance to add to that legacy?

KRAMER ROBERTSON

“We always say we have a lot of pride when we put this uniform on. We're representing not only ourselves and our teammates, but all the guys that came before us and paved the way for us to be in the situation. A lot of great players and a lot of great teams didn't make it to this series with the opportunity to play for a National Championship. And we get that opportunity. So we feel like we're representing those guys because we wouldn't be here without the work and those guys showing us the LSU way and how to do things. So we owe it not only to ourselves, our teammates, but to all those guys that came before us as well.”

JARED POCHÉ

“Yeah. Kind of what Kramer said. Over the week, a lot of former players have been in contact with us, just with support and we're obviously playing for each other but we're also playing for former players like he was saying, our families. And it's a dream come true for all of us. It's awesome. It's a great feeling. We're all excited. We're fired up and just ready to get on the field.”

Q. Kramer, I was looking through, and you guys are something like .432 in advancement opportunities. Seems like that's been when you guys got hot down the stretch, it's been your offense moving guys on base once you get them on. How important has that been for you all?

KRAMER ROBERTSON

“Yeah, I think that's been a point of emphasis, especially in the BBCOR, is being able to execute well, move runners and when you get them in scoring position, especially on third base, especially with less than two outs, is find a way to get them in. I think it speaks to unselfishness of every player on this team, not worrying about what you do, just worrying about you doing your job at the time, whether that's hitting a ground ball (indiscernible) whatever it is. We have a lineup of unselfish guys that just want to get the job done and do whatever we can to help the team win.”

Q: Kramer, is the hair staying, permanent? What do you think?

KRAMER ROBERTSON

“Unfortunately it is. It was funny for the first day, maybe first day or two, and then you wake up day three, day four, and you're like: Damn, I still got blond hair. This sucks. I look at the board after a play, and I'll see myself and kind of jump. Looks like somebody dumped a plate of noodles on my head. I'm about sick of it, but my teammates won't let me do anything to it yet. As soon as we're finished here, it's going back to normal.”

JJ SCHWARTZ

“There's nothing wrong with blond hair.”

PAUL MAINIERI

“Looks good on JJ.”

KRAMER ROBERTSON

“Yeah, looks better on JJ than it does on me. This will be the last time that my hair is this color.”

Q: Brady and Jared, does the ballpark give you confidence? We've seen some phenomenal pitching outings here. Is it just great guys out there with their stuff, or do you feel confident in this role, in this time?

BRADY SINGER

“Yeah, I feel confident. It is a big ballpark. But I think honestly it's the defense behind me, Dalton and India and Deacon and JJ at first, great defense picking me up all year. Obviously going to try to pitch and give them the ball and let them handle it.”

JARED POCHÉ

“At this point in the season, most starters are 100 innings or so in. So your season, you've pretty much seen it all throughout the entire year. You kind of hit that stride to where you kind of just sync up and rhythm just gets -- you hit a repeat and just trust in your guys behind you, just makes it a lot easier on a pitcher. Knowing you have great defense behind you. And like you said, this is a big ballpark, but balls have been flying. But you have to hit it pretty good to get it out of here, but unfortunately a lot of people have been hitting it pretty good.”

Q: Kevin, I think it was Friday night you mentioned the fine line that goes with tinkering with your lineup too much this late in the year. How much do you look at it today or tomorrow to see what you can squeeze out of these last two days?

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KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“Well, I didn't think we had a choice but to change it up because I think it got a little stale. The names didn't change, just where they hit in lineup changed a little bit. It is a fine line. We hit a ball down the first baseline, the ball hits the bag and kicks off, we score another run, that gets us a third run. We've scored in a lot of different ways this year. I think you can look at the numbers and think we're not a great offensive club, we just find a way to win. And we just try to do the little things and we pitch well, and we play good defense. It's just that simple.”

Q: Paul, can you elaborate on what you plan to do with your pitching here over the next possible three games?

PAUL MAINIERI

“I'm going to let Kevin pick our starter tomorrow, as I mentioned earlier.

“What I'm basically doing is working our way backwards. I think we have a little advantage over Florida in the sense that we started the tournament on Saturday and they started it on Sunday. Therefore, we played on Friday and I was able to throw Alex Lange on Friday, whereas Kevin couldn't throw Faedo until Saturday. Because of that, I'm not going to bring Lange back until he has four days rest. So the earliest he'll pitch will be next Wednesday. So knowing that I wouldn't pitch him until Wednesday if the if-necessary game is played, the thought for me was, well, if we're going to do that, we might as well give Poché five days' rest. So he's going to pitch on Tuesday.”

“So we just have to figure out tomorrow's game. And I don't know right now who we're going to start. I told Kevin that he'll be the first to know as soon as I decide. But I want to go through practice today talk to some players see how they look and feel and so forth. 

“For Lange to pitch, we have to win one of the first two games. And I just feel in my heart that it's the right thing to do. He's first-round draft choice, a long career ahead of him. He's never pitched on three days' rest before so I don't know how effective he would be. I want to do everything in my power to make sure that he leaves our program healthy for the Chicago Cubs. So, again, because I'm not going to pitch him until Wednesday, I feel like Poché can get an extra day rest that way as well.

“There will be some sort of combination of guys tomorrow. I just don't know who will be starting the game yet.”

Q: Kevin, could you just kind of -- from the context of last year, you guys lose a couple of close games with all those draft picks and everyone was picking you to get here, and now this year you are here. Just did you envision anything like this happening when you started off?

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“To be honest with you, I did. I had a feeling early on if we stayed healthy that we had the ingredients to be successful out here. I thought our starting pitching was going to be as good as anybody's in the country. We needed to figure out our bullpen. And Michael Byrne has turned out to be outstanding at the end. We've been able to use him in a lot of different roles. He was our mid-week starter. We've extended him in some games. And, quite honestly, the emergence of Tyler Dyson later in the year here has given us a big boost.

“We've won (18) one-run games this year. We've just found a way. We've got a gritty bunch. We battled injuries like most teams do throughout the year, and for whatever reason we've ended up on the winning end a lot of times, and it hasn't been pretty. It's been ugly at times but we've just found a way.”

Q: Like I asked the players earlier, for both coaches, what's your opinion on the home run ball being more fun for the game and what kind of adjustments did it take from coaches and players to play better in this park?

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“I think what JJ said is spot on. The wind has been blowing out, 18 to 20 miles an hour every game. So I think that's aided and helped. Pitchers are throwing harder. They're applying more power from that side of it. I think the hitters are better. I think the combination is a ton of things. But I think the wind has a lot to do with it, to be honest with you, at least this year.

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PAUL MAINIERI

“I agree 100%. I think that's the biggest difference between this year and previous years, when we've been here. The wind has allowed the park to play fairer, I think. I don't think cheap home runs are being hit. Balls getting hit good are being helped a little bit. I don't see any cheap home runs that you can see in other ball parks. If we could control the wind every year, I think Omaha would be the right -- the ballpark here in Omaha would be playing the way that everybody would want it to play.”

Q. Home run numbers are up across the board this season. Y'all were both the SEC Tournament -- I think you all set a record there for home runs there as well. So do you think that the changes to the ball is having the desired impact on the game, and knowing that the game can change on one swing, does that get the guys more confident if they do fall into a hole?

PAUL MAINIERI

“I think the ball has certainly helped. I don't know that much about the ball itself. Everybody just tells me they feel like it's traveling a little bit more. And I think another thing that's happened is the players have had enough years of using the BBCOR bats and have become more used to them. They've kind of adapted. I can't explain any other way why, because the arms are so good, you see more guys throwing 90 miles an hour-plus than we've ever seen before. Florida, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, so many of our teams in this league have power arms. Maybe it's what Kevin said; that maybe the power supply is the power, the power arms, if you're able to make decent contact. But I'm happy to see more home runs being hit. I think the game's more interesting, a little more fun to watch. Certainly more fun to manage.”

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“Yeah, I think the ball has a lot to do with it. But I also think guys are bigger and stronger than they've ever been. Going back to the Arkansas game. I mean, we lost the SEC Tournament, balls are flying out of the yard. Guys are more physical. I think we're spending more money in strength training, more money in the trainers. And I think our league gets the best players in the country. And I think that's why we're both probably sitting here, quite simple.”

Q: The student-athletes were asked a similar question, but just what are both of your perspectives on what changed for each team since that late March series in Gainesville?

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“I think we figured out our bullpen a little bit more. I've always said it's not who you play in your league, it's when you play them. Because we all go through ups and downs. And that weekend has absolutely no bearing on what is going to happen here in the next few days. Obviously we're both different clubs. They're probably a little deeper offensively than us. But we both played great defense. I know Paul likes to be aggressive on the base paths and they hit a ton, so we'll have to do a good job there. Like I just said, it's going to come down to who executes. I don't think the weekend in March has anything to do with what's going to happen here in the next couple of days.”

PAUL MAINIERI

“When we played Florida way back in March, they had just been swept in a three-game series at Auburn. So I didn't know what we were going to get. But Kevin, he's just got three starting pitchers that are outstanding. I mean, they're all first-round picks. They pitch like first-round picks. At that time he was still struggling with his bullpen. He tried a lot of different guys. I think the only game we won we were able to get to their bullpen at the end with a rally in the eighth inning. So these are the things that happen in the evolution of the season. You learn more about your players. We received a lot of criticism in our local area because we lost a lot of mid-week games or six mid-week games. But what you do is you find out -- I think Kevin lost more mid-week games probably than he's used to as well. But you find out who you can count on and what roles you can count on them and so forth. I think as Kramer or Jared said, the emergence of Zach Watson has been huge for us. I think the fact that Michael Papierski is swinging the bat so much better has helped us, and the move of Zach Hess to the bullpen has paid huge dividends for us. So I think both teams are vastly improved from where we were a couple of months ago.”

Q: Every coach wants to win, I understand that, but have either of you made changes to your program to win specifically here or try to win at this event, whether it be the style of athlete you recruit or maybe the style of play that you put out on the field?

PAUL MAINIERI

“Without question, Mike, you know, Kevin and I are in the same boat. They don't pay us to coach in Gainesville and in Baton Rouge. They pay us to coach in Omaha, that's where our goal is every year, and to win here. Everybody knows how this park generally plays. When we built our new park, our new Alex Box Stadium, it's not as much as a home run-hitting park as the old park was. When the roster limits went into effect and the bat changes, I made a concerted effort to get more speed, more athletes between the lines at the positions and try and dominate on the mound. So you have to have position players that can play really good defense.

“I think we do. We have for many years. Florida and LSU I think have been the top two defensive teams for many years most of the time that Kevin and I have coached our respective teams. And it's just hard to gamble on that one-dimensional player that can hit home runs, maybe he's hitting it off of 84, 85 miles an hour in high school, but is he going to hit it off Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar and Alex Faedo. If he doesn't hit home runs off that caliber pitcher, and he's not a defensive player, can't run, doesn't have versatility, then he becomes a player with very limited value. And when you only have 27 roster spots that you can give scholarship help to, it's hard to devote money to a guy like that.

“So, yeah, I think it's affected the way I recruit. Just try to make our team more athletic, more speed, more defensive ability, more versatility.

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“Yeah, I think the biggest difference in recruiting now and maybe four or five years ago is we put a lot of emphasis in the two-way player. We've always, always had really good baseball players. They may not be the fastest, may not be the biggest or strongest, but we try to get guys with high baseball IQ. And I think if you look back over the years. We've been really fortunate to have some really good shortstops. Dalton Guthrie is as good as I've ever had. Obviously we had Richie Martin and Nolan Fontana and Cole Figueroa before that. So we've had really, really good baseball players that have known how to play the game the right way. But I think the biggest change, like I said, to go back, is the two-way player. And it may be your sixth outfielder, it may be your 13th pitcher, but it just gives you a little bit more depth on your lineup because of the roster limits now.

Q: What is your pitching plans for the week?

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“Right now we'll go obviously Singer tomorrow. And then on Tuesday, depending on how the game goes tomorrow, maybe Dyson or even Michael Byrne for that matter. We're kind of shorthanded there. But both guys are capable. And like I said, with Zach Hess's emergence out of the pen for Paul, same thing can be said for us with Tyler Dyson. He went five strong innings against a really good Wake Forest hitting team in the Super Regional. We feel like we can start him if we don't need to use him tomorrow night.”

Q: How many times since you've been at Florida have you gone with a recruit where it's either Florida or LSU in the end?

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“Quite a few times. One in particular is Zach Hess. It came down to us and LSU.”

PAUL MAINIERI

“Jackson Kowar.”

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“Yeah, Jackson Kowar. I think it's happened quite a few times. And when it comes down to recruiting, just comes down to one thing. Just comes down to the kid. And whether they pick Florida or they pick LSU, the kid's going to go to a great school, have a chance to go to Omaha.”

Q: Do you have an update on Dalton (Guthrie) and (Garrett) Milchin?

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“No, not on Garrett yet. We'll obviously get the MRI there. And then Dalton, I saw him in the elevator last night. He seemed in good spirits. His back just has some spasms, and he feels confident going tomorrow night. But that obviously will be up to the training staff.”

Q: Kevin, would Jackson come back on Wednesday?

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“Jackson Kowar? Obviously four days' rest, he certainly will be available on Wednesday.”

Q: Kevin O’Sullivan, any chance that Alex would be able to pitch in relief on probably his (indiscernible) count on Wednesday if necessary

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“I don't know. I haven't gotten that far. I'm just worried about, to be honest with you, tomorrow night with Brady. That's one of the things we talk about, you just gotta stay focused on today, and today right now we've got practice and we've got to try to get some of our bats going. And then we've got to worry about Brady Singer tomorrow against LSU getting through their lineup. And I'm not worried about Tuesday or Wednesday at this point. That's one of the things I've learned: You have to stay focused on the point at hand.”

Q. Paul, Jared didn't have his best outings in the Regional and Super Regional, but he's come here and pitched really well twice. Is it something about him being in these big environments? Did he do something differently? Is it just locating his stuff? What's been...

PAUL MAINIERI

“His whole career has been that way. He's not an overpowering guy. Everybody knows that. No secret. Command is a major factor for him. Pitching ahead in counts, doing those kinds of things. And when he pitches well, he does the things he needs to do. And when he doesn't pitch as well, he's constantly falling behind on counts, maybe even walking batters. But Jared is -- I mean, I sound like a broken record, every time somebody asks me about Jared. Jared is like the consummate bulldog out there. He's a warrior. He's going to give you everything he's got. And, you know, you hope he's on. If he's not, sometimes he lets base runners on, but he has that ability to wiggle out of jams an awful lot. And hopefully when he gets the ball on Tuesday, he'll be on top of his game.”

Q: Both coaches, there's so much significance to this game for you guys and your programs, how do you approach it? Do you try to treat it like a weekend series? I'm curious about your mental makeup for this contest.

PAUL MAINIERI

“I mean, I was rooting for Florida. I wanted them to be in the finals. They're familiar with us. We're familiar with them. It feels like an SEC weekend, except there's a little bit more at stake than a series in March. But I think the fact that we're playing each other is going to ease a lot of the anxiety for the players, and I think you'll see good baseball. I hope both teams make the plays. I hope both teams make strikes. I hope it's a good, crisp game where a couple of hits or an at-bat here or there determine the outcome of the game.

“There's no hiding the fact what we're playing for. Both of us want to take that trophy home with us. And I've gotten to experience that one time in my life. It's an amazing feeling. I know Sully's challenged for it many times, and eventually he's going to get it. I just hope it's not this year. You know what I mean? But he's had a tremendous program for many years. You keep banging and knocking on that door, and one of these times he's going to bang, knock through the door and win it all. And he might win it several times after that. The first time's always the hardest. For me, it's going to be a great series. We want to win a National Championship very badly. We've had a great year. And I'm proud of our team regardless of what happens in the next three days. But obviously we're going to do everything in our power to try to win it.”

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“It would be nice to play Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, so we have Faedo on four days rest.”

PAUL MAINIERI

“There's no rain in the forecast is there?”

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“But to be honest with you, I think our kids are champions already. I do. Of course we want to win. But we're going to play our hearts out. We're going to play as hard as we can. We're going to give it our best effort. But this has been a real fun team to coach. It's been very challenging throughout the year. We've had to overcome a lot of things. But at the end of the day, we're going to give it our best shot against a really, really good LSU team. But I think our kids have -- I think they're champions already.”

Q. For both of you, I know you're inundated in the daily sort of getting your guys ready to play, and you want to play the best baseball possible, but I wonder on your downtime what have your impressions been of this years's CWS? Ratings are up. Attendance is up. I think we all expected going in that it's going to be really competitive, and we've seen some good quality baseball. Just how has this year's experience compared to your previous ones?

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“We played every night game. And I think everybody in here is familiar, I've got two young kids, four and six, and it's been late nights and early mornings. There's no alarm clock needed in my room.”

PAUL MAINIERI

“You look kind of tired.”

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

“Yeah. It's been a long week. Put it this way: I've not had a chance to enjoy any of the other games, which I always enjoyed doing, walking down to the ballpark, watching other teams play. Everything's been on TV. Then as concerned about playing the other teams as making sure that the iPads are charged and the spinners are working. It's been one of those weeks. But we haven't had the luxury of playing any day games. So I've tried to get as much sleep as I can and trying to work on our opponents as much as I can. But it's been great. I'm sure I'm going to have to go to FanFest. Is FanFest open today? I'm hoping so. I don't know. But my son's been killing me all week. I haven't had a chance to take him. So hopefully it's open today. But it's been a great experience. And like I said, we're just fortunate enough to be here right now.”

PAUL MAINIERI

“I just think the College World Series is the greatest event in all sports. I mean that sincerely. I'd rather go to the College World Series than see a Super Bowl or anything else. It's always an awesome experience because the people in Omaha embrace it so much and they make you feel so privileged to be here. And this year, in particular, all of us fought through all the potential Cinderella teams that we had to play along the way. Man, that pressure in those games is so great. And you look at the eight teams that were in the field this year -- I said this before the tournament, Sully, that usually you look at one bracket or the other and you say, well, this one's a little bit more top heavy than this one.”

“I thought the brackets were very even this year. I mean, we had the No. 1 team in the country in ours, plus Florida State, plus (Cal State Fullerton). And then in his bracket he had Texas A&M and TCU, and Louisville is a great team. Just the fact that we're both here today means we've won some big games.

“But I've thoroughly enjoyed the tournament. I thought there was great baseball all week. The crowds were magnificent. I hope they continue to be these next three nights. If any of you have any extra tickets you want to share with me, I could use them, I promise you.

“The weather has obviously cooperated. I'm happy the wind's blown out. It's been an awesome experience these two weeks. I love the College World Series. If I'm not a participant, I still love it as a fan, and hopefully the two teams will put on a good show these next few days.”


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