MSU Players Talk About Game

Mississippi State players - Ryan Collins, C.T. Bradford, Caleb Reed, Nick Vickerson - talk about their team's game-two victory over the No. 2 national seed Florida Gators.

Ryan Collins

What were your thoughts when Nick Vickerson came up with one man on, no outs and your team was trailing by one?
"In that situation you are hoping he gets something that he can drive, take at least one chance at it. And he sure enough did. I can't even describe it. I don't know if I have been this excited in my life."

What did you do when it cleared the fence?
"I ran out onto the field toward home plate. I felt like I could have ran out there and tackled him while he was running the bases."

I'm assuming it was difficult for the team to hold back while watching him round the bases?
"Oh yeah, that was probably the hardest part not just going out there and dog piling him before he even crossed the plate. I don't know if I have ever been more excited in my life."

To me, it seemed like it took forever to go over the fence. Did it seem that way to you as well?
"It did seem like it took forever to go over. We've crushed some balls this weekend that I felt like had a chance to get out. That one was the same way but that one was able to find its way out of the ballpark. It was awesome."

What will this win do for the team?
"At this point in the season with all the adrenalin and excitement that we have going and we are one win away from Omaha. With all the injuries and everything like that, you just don't feel them anymore. You are just kind of numb out there. Everything you have put into your career and into this season and it all comes down to tomorrow. We are just one game from going to the College World Series."

Speaking of putting everything into the season, Caleb Reed really put everything into it today to hold Florida to one run in his 5+ innings.
"That was huge. He's done that all season. He's been that guy that we can count on, we can rely on when he comes out of the pen. It's a big boost of confidence when he comes out of the pen because you know he's going to give you everything that he has. And he was filthy today, just like he has been all year."

There are probably around 500 Mississippi State fans at the two games. How big is that to the team?
"It means a lot. Just like at Georgia Tech. At Georgia Tech you looked up and we had more Mississippi State fans than Georgia Tech fans at the championship game. And you look up in the stands here and there are tons of MSU fans. That's just huge because it shows how much they care about this program and how they really care about baseball at Mississippi State."

Speaking of this program, as a senior, how important is it to you to know that you are part of the class that has turned this program back around?
"A lot of us - me, Cody (Freeman) and Brent (Brownlee) - when we signed here we were coming in right after they had gone to the 2007 College World Series. This program has such a great history continuously going to regionals, super regionals, going to Omaha and has a number of great players. It's nice, as a senior, to help get the program back to where it belongs and should be year in, year out."

C.T. Bradford

What happened in the dugout when Nick hit his home run in the 9th?
"It just exploded. I knew it was out the more and more it kept going because he got good backspin on it. Obviously, his objective was to hit something up the middle and when you do that that is what happens sometime."

Did it appear to be slow in going over the fence? It seemed that way to me.
"(Laugh) Not to me. I saw it get higher and higher and I knew it was out."

Is this the most exciting moment for you compared other special moments that you have had in baseball?
"I've had a lot of special moments in championship games and in summer ball. All that matters now is we are one win away from Omaha. That's all that matters now."

When Nick was running around the bases what were you thinking?
"I am so happy for him. He has been through a lot this year. He loves baseball. And to do something like that is awesome for him."

This kind of victory has to help the team going into tomorrow's game.
"It does. We have one more game, one more, that is it."

What is it about this team that makes it so special? I don't know if you would describe it as a great team but there definitely is something special about it.
"I don't think every time we step on the field we are the more talented team but it's not just talent. You have to have everything - hard work, have some talent obviously, and have a team that is close and I think we are that."

Caleb Reed

They has quite a few hits on Routt today and hit a lot of other balls hard. But when you came in they didn't really hit you hard that often. What did you have going for you in the game?
"I just come in and try to throw strikes with movement and keep hitters off-balance. And I throw the good slider that I have. And (Wes Thigpen) did a great job of calling the game. He called some pitches that I normally wouldn't throw in certain situations. A lot of times I would throw two sliders, get 0-2, then throw another slider to finish off the hitter. Today, we mixed it up. We would throw a fastball in, and that was a big pitch for me. Running that two-seam (fastball) in on them. Even if it wasn't a strike it moved them off the plate, which freed up the outer half for me. I think that was a big key for me, getting in."

There was one inning where they seemed to hit you pretty hard. What was different about that inning compared to the others?
"I might have left the ball more in that inning. My two-seam run and sink might have flatten out a little bit and I might have left it up around the belt a little more."

What happened on the ball that was hit over Bradford's head?
"We tried to go fastball in and I threw a two-seam and it ran back across the heart of the plate. I should have started a little more at him if I was going to throw it in. If I was going to miss in I should have hit him. But I ran it back across the middle of the plate and he put his barrel on it."

You did your job by holding Florida down. Then the hitters did their job in the bottom of the 9th. What were your thoughts when Vickerson hit his game-winning home run?
"I just went crazy. As soon as he hit it I knew it was a home run. I was jumping up, screaming, yelling, anything you could do I was doing it. Before the inning started, I thought let's don't prolong this. Let's have Jarrod (Parks) get a hit and Nick (Vickerson) hit a home run. I thought that right before the inning started."

What is it about this team? It is probably not what you would call a great team but it is special. What makes it so special?
"We don't give up. We don't give up. We play together as a team. We really compete, fight and grind it out. ."

What did the team think about the no artificial noisemakers sign showing a symbol of a cowbell at the entranceway of the stadium?
"We saw it when we first got here. We laughed at it. We said we wanted to steal it just because of how it looked (laugh). They don't want (cowbells) in here because they know how loud it will get. But our fans are loud anyway so it doesn't matter."

Speaking of the fans, what are your thoughts about having so many of them here at the Super Regional?
"I love the fans. They are here supporting us and are loud. They are just as loud as the Florida fans are. When (Florida) got that basehit off of me I think the Florida fans were really loud but our fans were just as loud as their fans were when Nick got that walk-off home run."

How special is it to you to see this program going back to the type program is was?
"From where I started to where it is now, it has been dramatically different, as a team, as an individually. I just continue to see this program on the rise. I was asked about whether I was worried about the draft. I wasn't. I would rather stick around with these guys, guys that I love and care about. I would rather be with them than be drafted and ride around on a bus (in the minor leagues). I am happy where I am and I want to see this program keep rising and I want to be a part of it."

Nick Vickerson

Walk me through what you were thinking from the time you went up to bat in the ninth to the time you touched the plate.

"I knew who he was bringing in as soon as he walked out to the mound and put up the left hand because Rodriguez has done a good job on me all year. I faced him twice and he had two strikeouts. He's a really good pitcher who throws four good pitches for strikes. Coach (Cohen) gave me one strike to swing at (before bunting) and thankfully I got a fastball."

Were you thinking fastball?
"I was expecting a curve because that was what I had been swinging at all day and I didn't make adjustments on my first two at-bats. I just wanted to make an adjustment on that at-bat. I knew that he had a cutter and that they may be why they brought him in. Maronde also has a great fastball as well, so I was sitting on the cutter."

What did you think as soon as you hit it?
"I hit it but I probably didn't hit it as well as I could have. But I knew it wasn't going to be caught. I figured I had at least a double, then I heard it hit the fence. But I didn't know if it hit the back fence or the main fence, so I was running as hard as I could."

When did you know it was a home run?
"When I saw the outfielder slow down and pick up the ball. He wasn't sprinting anymore."

After you saw that what did you think?
"I was like, 'oh my God, is the game over?' Then I looked over and the guys were on the field and I was like, 'oh my goodness.' "

What were you thinking when you went around third base and looked toward home plate?
"I saw (Jarrod Parks) my roommate and my best friend standing at home plate smiling."

With all the players standing right at home plate were you thinking to yourself you have to make sure you touch home plate?
"Yeah, I was like, 'make sure you touch all the bases.' I didn't want to be the number 1 blooper on ESPN (laugh)."

After you touched home plate what did you think?
"I don't even remember to be honest with you. Everybody rushed on the field. It was a dream come true."

When did you finally come down from all the emotions?
"About the middle of the (postgame) press conference. On the field I was breathing hard. I'm still breathing hard. I'm just glad we have a shot to play tomorrow. That's the biggest thing."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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