After so many close calls and the run that tied it up, was there any thought like here we go again?
"Yes, not only for me but for all the guys in the dugout. There is a lot of luck in the game of baseball. You hate to win a game due to a mistake, but we have had such tough luck, I will take it anyway I can for our players."
Talk about the play of your team tonight.
"I thought we competed well. We played great defense. I had a feeling, even though it wasn't a big crowd, that we were playing for a championship. I thought the crowd was into the ballgame. I thought the kids were in the game because they knew what was at stake. Arkansas was trying to win a title. I think we helped a lot of schools in the league by doing what we did tonight. They are a good ballclub that is playing with a lot of confidence."
On the play at home where their center fielder threw Berkery out at home, did you think about holding him up?
"No, anytime you have a guy at second and it is a ground ball up the middle that has a lot of ground ball touch to it, you try to score the runner. If I had it to do over again, I would do the same thing."
Talk about Alan Johnson's game tonight.
"Alan pitched well. He got tired at the end and normally I would pull him, but we have been struggling in the bullpen the last few weeks. It wasn't always the fault of the bullpen. It just seemed like bad things happened. Kids make mistakes sometimes and perform well at other times."
With the two teams that are 7th and 8th in the SEC, Vanderbilt and Tennessee, losing two this weekend, your team is still in the SEC Tournament and Regional picture.
"If we win two tomorrow and two at Alabama, we still have that tie-breaker problem (due to Vanderbilt and Tennessee winning 3 of 3 and 2 of 3 against MSU). But our RPI could go up to something like 24 or 25."
Even though that could happen, you still might have 9 other SEC schools with higher RPIs than yours when it comes time to select the NCAA Regional field.
"Then, we will see if the NCAA Baseball Committee really selects the 64 best regional teams. If we are 24th and they pick someone that is number 55, what are they telling us? They are penalizing us for being in a great conference. You shouldn't penalize a school for being in a great conference, but they will. My first year back (at MSU), they picked Washington because they didn't have enough schools from the West Coast. That was their answer even though Washington's RPI was 55 and ours was something like 37."
You finally won one of those heartbreakers. I guess you don't have too much sympathy for the other team.
"Oh no. I believe in the 8th and 9th innings they got several questionable calls by the umpire. Then, they had a few chink hits here and there that forced AJ out of the game after he had pitched so well."
On the grounder that the third baseman errored, allowing the winning run to score, what was the pitch that Jay Sawatski threw you?
"It was a 2-2 slider. He threw me one on a 1-0 count and he threw me another one that was a ball."
Talk about Arkansas' first pitcher, Clint Brannon. He pretty much dominated the first few innings.
"He did. I don't think he gave up a hit until either the 4th or 5th inning. He was throwing a lot of strikes. When they got into the bullpen, their pitching kind of dropped off and we kind of opened it up."
With Vanderbilt and Tennessee losing, you guys are still in the SEC Tournament picture.
"Hopefully, everything will work out for us. Everybody seemed up and everybody seemed to play well. We never got down even when they came back and tied it up. Earlier in the year, it seemed like when a team came back, everybodies heads kind of dropped."
When the umpire called a no-swing on a swing where the Arkansas batter appeared to go around, did that get you guys down at all?
"We didn't really get down after that call. We just pushed through it. The past couple of weeks we would have gotten down, but tonight we didn't."
When you hit the ball that was errored allowing the winning run to score, what were you thinking when you saw it was going to be a close play at first?
"I was running as fast as I could because I knew it was going to be close. I knew it was going to be a close play because he was playing back at third. As soon as I got ready to step on the bag, I could see the ball was in the dirt. I thought right then that we caught a break."
What did you have going for you tonight?
"I threw strikes. I was locating my fastball and getting my breaking ball over. And my defense played well."
Did you feel like you were losing a little of your stuff in the 9th inning?
"The leadoff guy got on with a chink hit after a questionable call. Then the other guy got a chink hit up the middle. That was just how it went. Luckily, Saunders (Ramsey) came in and did his job."
Coach Polk has said that when you have to pitch from the stretch, you aren't as effective. Tonight, you were effective.
"Yeah, I was making my pitches. I have also adjusted some things with my mechanics. It showed tonight."
Did you feel any added pressure due to the importance of this game?
"I knew this game was big, but there really wasn't any added pressure. If we were battling for first place, then there would have been added pressure. What we are doing now is trying to get into the regionals because getting into the SEC Tournament might be out of the question."
On the errored throw to first that allowed you to score the winning run, what did you think when you saw it go by the first baseman?
"When it went past him I felt like a ton of weight had been lifted off our shoulders because we had won a (SEC) game."
Talk about the putout at home where Hunter threw the ball from centerfield to nail the runner at home.
"Joseph came up with a great throw. That changed the complexion of the game because it kept them off the scoreboard. That run could have hurt us later in the game."
Talk about the overall play of your team tonight.
"We haven't been pitching or playing good defense. We've been hitting the ball but not timely hitting. Tonight, we got it all done. I'm happy about that because I was afraid of what would have happened tomorrow if we had lost this game."
Talk about Johnson's game tonight?
"Today, he kept the ball down and threw more changeups than he normally does. He had his curveball working for strikes. Even when it was 0-2 or 1-2, he didn't give them anything to hit. Sometimes they fished at it, sometimes they didn't. We were throwing fastballs in curveball counts to keep them off-balance."
Saunders pitched well tonight after not been as effective lately compared to early on.
"He has thrown everyday it seems like. Sometimes we have been having to go to him too early because our starters weren't making it too far into the game. Saunders is good for one or two innings, but we have been having to go to him in the 5th and 6th inning."
On the no-swing call by the umpire, you threw the ball straight up in the air in frustration. Did you think about what the umpire might do after you did that?
"I didn't care. You hate to say it but this year we haven't gotten any breaks. I don't understand how someone can throw a pitch like that and you don't ring the batter up. Then, what happened with that guy? He winds up coming around to score."
You guys really fought hard to win this game tonight.
"Even though it appears the baseball gods and the fans hate us and there doesn't appear to be any way possible for us to get to the SEC Tournament, we are still out here fighting, showing a lot of emotion and intensity. We have a lot of young guys on our team who still want to make a regional."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher/owner of Gene's Page, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.