May 31, 2007
NCAA Tournanent Tallahassee Regional
Pre-Tournament Press Conference Quotes
Florida State Head Coach Mike Martin
“As I sit here and listen to these men talk about their seasons, I look at them and realize how much fun the weekend is shaping up to be. It is a great accomplishment to get to postseason play. There are so many clubs that did not make it that are very good and we all feel very good about being able to continue to play. There are a lot of stories that I can say to each of these guys, but I want to congratulate each and every one of them. It is a great accomplishment and I look forward to a great weekend. And you can rest assured that it will rain. It will rain and the people of Tallahassee will owe me because every time we have a regional it rains and we haven’t had any rain around here in a very long time.”
On Ron Polk
“I got to tell you a Polk story. This is in 1983 when Palmero and Will Clark were here… It’s an exhibition… it does…not…count! We’re literally running people in anytime we want to. Got me? Polk gets thrown out of the game. The man gets run in an exhibition game.”
On the season
“It was a year that a lot of things went right for us. It was a year that was unbelievable for some of our guys…Bryan Henry winning the first 14 games that he pitched in…Tony Thomas going from a guy that was fighting for his position last September to Player of the Year…a shortstop that wanted to change majors to physical education, they did not have that where he went to school, so he happens to come to Florida State and through no real fault on my part Buster Posey becomes the catcher and Marcus Hallberg becomes the shortstop. So a lot of things have gone into a year that has been a success thus far, but of course everything begins now. ”
On All-Americans Buster Posey and Bryan Henry
“Buster was chosen yesterday as an All-American…that is phenomenal. A guy can go from a freshman All-American shortstop to the next year being an All-American catcher. He’s a special player. Of course Bryan Henry was also chosen as an All-American.”
On the other teams
“When you get into this time of the year, anything can happen. Every team that is here deserves to be here. Nobody backed into this thing. If I’m not mistaken, Mervyl (Melendez) lost only one game in his conference. He beat Tennessee, he beat Stetson, and he’s beaten some outstanding clubs. Ron (Polk) of course played in a very difficult league, Pete (Dunn) was in the top-20 the majority of the year, the only bump was in the end of the year, and we all know that conference tournaments are tough. But it all starts now. ”
On the excitement surrounding the regional
Of course I think that he entire community is excited about having teams in of the caliber of Bethune-Cookman, Stetson and Mississippi State, so it should create a lot of excitement in our city and surrounding areas.”
On respecting teams in postseason play
In all honesty, when you get to this time of the year, you just respect everybody. These three guys are friends. That’s what makes this weekend special. You look back on my career. I remember going to Miami in 1978 and we faced Marshall…the Thundering Herd…that was impressive. They had a left handed pitcher who could not puff your lip. He shut us out. We went out there like we got this thing all figured out, this guy isn’t any good…Marshall? I wasn’t in Miami long enough to change underwear, then I was back home. No matter who you are playing, this happens to be a very strong field. Look at the Nebraska regional last year, they were a top 16 seed and they lost their first two ballgames. So the reward is playing at home.”
Mississippi State Head Coach Ron Polk
“Thank you; many years ago when I was a young boy, I used to come up to Tallahassee to watch Mike Martin coach. (Laughter) It’s great to be here. It’s great to be in Tallahassee. At our age, it’s great to be anywhere. I’m going to call back to Starkville as soon as this press conference is over with. We’ve got some right handed hitting red-shirts that we’re going to have activated for tomorrow and we’re going to send back all our left handed hitters. Thanks for that scouting report on us Pete (Dunn), I appreciate it.”
On the other teams
“Like all the coaches here we’re glad to be here and I’ve heard a lot about Mervyl (Melendez) and what he’s done at Bethune-Cookman. He played in a regional in Oxford a couple years ago and some of the press told me that your team played hard and played well and were very impressed by you. I haven’t had a chance to meet him, but he’s done a great job with Bethune-Cookman.
Pete Dunn and I go back a long way. I have a lot of respect for Pete. We used to play Stetson three or four times a year back when I was at Georgia Southern. Now they have a beautiful new ballpark and Pete has done a tremendous job there. I don’t want to sound old and say that I’m proud of him, but at the same time I’m just tickled to death that he has done so well with the Hatters. This will make the first time that Mississippi State has ever played Stetson. I’m anxious to tee it up, but at the same time I’m not so happy to play against such a good ball club.
Again me and Mike Martin go way back, I’m not going to tell you what our record against each other is, I’ll let him do that. Mike is the epitome of college baseball. Just look at this facility, this is unbelievable; this is my first time coming to the new ballpark here. This is a great tribute to what Mike has done here in Tallahassee at Florida State. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. We haven’t been here since we came down in 1983 to play an exhibition three game series between the conference tournament and the regionals. In 1983 I had Will Clark and Raphael Palmero here as freshmen. I brought them down here and at that time there wasn’t a chain link fence in right field. During B.P. the day before the series, both Will and Raphael came up to me and asked about transferring to FSU. But now they have that big fence that reminds me of Auburn in left field. So I’ve played Martin while I was at Georgia and at Mississippi State. We go a way back and I’m glad to be here with Mike, Pete and Mervyl. ”
“Real quick, our ball club is excited; they are healthy as much as we have been all year. This has not been a very healthy year, we don’t like to make any major excuses, but we went through a span where our training room had to have bunk beds. We were banged up a lot. We lost two pitchers Matt Lee and Jared Wesson before the season started. We have two other pitchers that were not going to be factors that went down during the season. We had Jeff Flagg go down and Cade Hoggard is not with us on this trip, he’s going to have to have an operation on a herniated disc. Nick Hardy is with us and he will need an operation in the offseason on his wrist. Brandon Turner is now full speed, he’s our leading hitter and he’s been out off-and-on for three weeks and now he’s ok again. Aaron Weatherford, our closer has not pitched in about three to four week period. The main reason is because he’s had some nerve problems in his right arm. He’s not pitched in a while but his bullpen outings have been good, so we can’t say that we’re not healthy, it’s full steam ahead going into this tournament. ”
On what the team has been through
“We’ve really struggled the last few weeks. I’m sure these coaches have looked at our last few scores and seen what we’ve seen; we’ve lost four one-run games and four two-run games in the span of about three and a half weeks. We’ve faced a lot of good pitching. Pete is talking about his left handed pitcher and I’m sure he’s outstanding. The last game we played, we faced David Price of Vanderbilt, and if he’s (the Stetson left-hander) is better than Price, then he won’t be here for very long. We also faced David Cline of Ole Miss who can be a first or second round draft pick. So we’ve faced some pretty good pitching on the road. With injuries, we’ve had Brandon Turner out and Aaron (Weatherford), then others just limping around. It’s something that probably has cost us two or three of those ballgames. Up to that point we were doing well, our RPI was sixth or seventh then it dropped like it should when you start losing. I like our ball club and I’m happy about its makeup with good kids and I’m proud to be their head coach. I’m happy to be in Tallahassee to see some good friends. There are a lot of people here that have Mississippi State ties.”
Stetson Head Coach Pete Dunn
“Like Mervyl (Melendez) it’s an honor to be here. It’s certainly a pleasure to be here with these three gentlemen. Mervyl and I have been close friends and we are neighbors just 15 minutes away and we play each other four times a year. Ironically as many times his club as been to regionals and the times we’ve been, we’ve never been in the same regional so this is a first for us.
Coach (Ron) Polk is a very special person to me. He gave me my first opportunity to get into college coaching. I met Ron when he was still at Miami-Dade, we were in the Marine reserve unit together in Miami and I met Ron personally then, I knew of Ron. He offered me an opportunity, I was a good catch, good throw, no hit catcher playing in the Royals organization and I knew my professional career was at its end, or close to being at its end so Ron offered me an opportunity, he probably knew how bad I was too, because he offered me a job and knew I would be looking for a job very quickly. I did go up as grad assistant up there and had the opportunity to learn and coach under Ron. We were also privileged in ’73 to get to the College World Series with the Georgia Southern Club so Ron is certainly very near and dear to my heart as a coach.
Mike (Martin) and I go back a long ways. There’s a big difference between Mike and I. We both started the same year, I think he and I and Danny Price all started head coaching in 1980. The only difference is that he (Martin) has about 500 more wins than I do in the same amount of time. Somebody said, “hey man, you went over a thousand last year, now you’re in there with Coach Martin and Coach Polk.” I said, “Yeah, but he’s got 500 more wins.” It is a pleasure to be here again. I can say in all honesty that we have been privileged and lucky enough to go to a lot of regionals and you guys do it the best here. You guys really do it right here. We’ve been not only here, but to Miami, Florida and other places outside the state, but certainly compared to the places that we’ve been to, you guys do it as good as anyone could expect to.”
On his team:
“Our club has struggled a little bit this year. We started out very fast; we played some very good clubs. That was one thing that we have emphasized in our conference. Most of you know that we (the Atlantic Sun Conference) in the past few years have lost UCF, FAU and Troy. So obviously our conference RPI has suffered. We’ve consciously tried to upgrade our schedule which we did this year, and we played some very good clubs early; Southern Illinois, Louisville, LSU and Florida, so we’ve upgraded our schedule and played well early.
Recently down the stretch we have stumbled more than anytime during the year. We went 2-2 in our conference tournament after winning the regular season. We hope to get back on track after the layoff. We’ve got nobody hurt, so the bump in the road was not because of injuries. So everybody’s doing well now. We hope that the layoff between the conference tournaments last week and the regionals starting tomorrow will get us back on track. Our hitters have been a little bit slow with the bats which is a sign of fatigue, so we hope that this little bit of a layoff will help that.
We’ve pitched pretty well; we’re going to start a left hander against Coach Polk tomorrow. We know that their lineup has a lot of left-handed hitters after looking at some film and scouting reports. We’re going to start Chris Ingoglia, our left hander, who has won nine games for us this year against them and then our number one will be available for what hopefully will be a winner’s bracket game; Corey Kluber who is a junior right hander who has pitched very well for us. What had happened is Ingoglia had been our number one starter for the last three seasons and then Kluber emerged for us in the regional at Georgia Tech. We started him for the first game against the Yellow Jackets. Since then he has been our number one guy. We really like the lefty matchup against Ron’s club so we will start Ingoglia against Ron tomorrow.
On not starting Second-Team All-American Corey Kluber:
Well if you talk to our fans and if were successful I’ll look like a genius but if not you’ll read about it in the papers, what an idiot I am. It’s tough, we sat down as a staff and we had to make sure all of us were on the same page but we just like the matchup better and sometimes reputations are great, accolades are great, but you got to look at the match up and go with your gut I really think that it’s the best matchup. It’s one of the things I learned over the years of coaching if nothing else, you gotta coach with you head and not your heart. And sometimes that doesn’t work as well for me but we just think the matchup is better. But yeah it’s difficult you come into these things now and I’ll say this, I don’t mean to be egotistical with this but our club has been to enough regionals now that our next step is to win a regional. We’ve been close, we were here a number years ago where we were one game off of Omaha when they instituted the Super Regional and we played the final game to go to Omaha right here in this stadium and we’ve been close and we’ve been in the finals several times but for this club for our club and our program we’ve gotta get over the hump. So coming in here, were not coming in to win a game, were coming in to win a regional and we think by doing this with these matchups will give us the best chance to win a regional.
On what he learned from coaching with Ron Polk:
Well, like I said I really only had two opportunities, and they were great opportunities, to learn under two great baseball men Jim Ward who I played for at Stetson and who I was a student assistant for while I was finishing up my undergraduate degree and he was a great baseball man and then of course when I went with Ron and after I left Ron I was fortunate to take over a high school program. And so those were the only two guys I had a chance to learn under. And of course Ron is one of the most if not the most organized person in the world. If you talk to my assistants, that is one thing that I didn’t learn from Ron. I am not the most organized person in the world. I was also fortunate enough to work as an assistant on the 1998 USA team, so I was able to again coach under him. He is meticulous when it comes to preparation and preparing a team, so I think that one of the main things I took away from my time with Ron is preparation and not taking anything for granted and making sure that when you leave the field at the end of the day everything is structured and everything is taken care of. If you didn’t achieve what you thought you should in a practice session then you might walk away from it that day but you would get back to it and make sure that the club is prepared. So hopefully our club is prepared and can do the fundamentals. He’s just a great baseball guy; I can tell you that I’m more of an outwardly intense guy than Ron is. I can tell you that back when I was with the USA baseball team and things weren’t going well at times he kept that even keel and I was more an emotional guy. I have all of my bad traits and I got all of my good traits from him. It was a pleasure to not only learn from him initially, but to get back with him in 1998 to coach with him again.
Bethune Cookman Head Coach Mervyl Melendez
“This is going to be our fourth year here. I know we haven’t had much luck here. We’re hoping to play well. One thing that I did notice and I think I need to mention this, we have almost 4,000 victories among the three other coaches and here I am on my eighth year coaching against one of the greatest college coaches in baseball. It is an honor; it is a privilege to be here at Florida State. Coach (Mike) Martin has done an outstanding job, not only this year, but throughout the years here. Of course we all know about Coach (Ron) Polk and what he has done and Pete Dunn is neighbor to Bethune Cookman of course. I’ve know Pete for the 12 years that I’ve been at Bethune Cookman. It is a privilege to coach against them, I know I’m not going to out-coach them so we better out-play them. Hopefully we can play hard and see if we can earn a little bit of respect.”
On the break between the MEAC Tournament and NCAA Tournament:
“We’ve only had one week, so it’s not a big deal, it’s just like having an off week. It’s not something that is going to hurt us. What’s going to hurt us is the teams that we have ahead of us, not really the layoff that we’ve had. Playing a team that is 33-4 at their home field is going to be extremely difficult. We’ve seen them on TV, if I don’t see them on TV I catch his show (Mike Martin) so I know what they’ve done, I know what he’s said. He’s very modest about the way he talks about his team but we all know what they can do. We just have to come out and be ready to play. If we’re not ready to play it’s going to be a long night for us.”
On Florida State:
“I’ve always said that I respect the way he coaches the game, they can play. If you look at a Florida State team they are not going to be loaded with five first rounders, but they are going to be able to play the game better. The pitch, they pitched well this year, they’re hitting .355 as a team – that’s better than all but one of my hitters – so this year they have put it all together. You’ve seen their record, you’ve seen the way they play, they can play the game. As a young coach you have to learn how to coach the game and if you don’t coach the game you can’t play and you can’t advance to the next level. The way that they coach the players is one of the best jobs I’ve seen in the nation.”
On being able to run against FSU All-American catcher Buster Posey:
“Probably not. We haven’t had that much success this year with our running game. We have adjusted our game a little bit because of the personnel that we have. Is that going to prevent us from doing the things that we want to do? Probably not. We have to play our game, our philosophy has changed a little bit this year because of the players that we have, but I don’t think we’re going to be able to run against any of those catchers. We have played Stetson four times, I don’t think we can run against their catcher, we can’t run against anybody here, we’re just going to have to come out and be ready to play.”
On Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year Tony Thomas:
“As far as I know, and I don’t know if this is still true, he hasn’t cut his hair since he’s been hitting so well, that’s how much I follow college baseball. I know he has adjusted his swing, I know they have worked with him, I know Mike Martin Jr. was worked with him. Is that going to be a factor? Hopefully he doesn’t have a great game, that’s the only way you can stop a player like that. We have faced some great hitters and what I’ve told my pitching coach is `Listen, throw it right around the middle, let him get himself out, don’t waste any pitches. If he is going to hit, he’s going to hit, whether you make quality pitches or not.’ Sometimes you’ve just got to throw it down the middle and see what they can do. He’s going to hit quality pitches and he’s going to hit bad pitches. That’s the way it is; in college baseball that’s just the way it works.”
On how this year’s Bethune Cookman compares to previous teams:
“We have a lot of upperclassmen. What I like is the leadership. What I like is their drive, their motivation, they want to get to places that probably a lot of the other teams have never talked about. Whether that translates into victories or not this week I don’t know, but at least they have their mind set-up to what they want to do. That’s the main difference. Talent wise, this is probably the second or third best team since I’ve been there, but once again you don’t need your best team to play well, you’ve just got to play baseball, you’ve got to play well.