June 6, 2003
Head Coach, Florida State University
“I would like to say in regards to those young men (Florida State players) that I don’t know when I’ve ever been prouder of a group, the way they fought back last weekend against a ball club (South Alabama) that was very, very impressive. And with the heat being what it was, our young men never backed down, fought hard for 18 innings and certainly put themselves in this position.
And I’ve really got to say that, to face the University of Texas in Tallahassee certainly presents a tremendous excitement, not that Miami and Florida and other schools that come in here, but when you are playing for what we are playing for, and you’ve got a school that has such great tradition as the University of Texas does, it certainly has a tremendous feel.
I don’t know when I’ve ever felt this way on a Tuesday as we did. You could just sense it in the city that this weekend was going be one of a lot of excitement. I don’t want to be anything but respectful in these comments, but Augie Garrido is a personal friend of mine, and not to make him sound like he is that much older then I am, but he has really helped me in many, many ways in my career. Both in watching how he conducts his program, the way he treats his players, and certainly the accomplishments are unparalleled.
And so this is very special to me. We’ve had the pleasure of lining up against each other a number of times in the past, and I can remember where he was at, in fact I would say I’m one of the few coaches that has lined up against him in just about every stop he’s had. Remember we played in a Regional in Starkville in 1990 when he was at the University of Illinois. So it’s special to me to host a program of this stature and certainly a coach with the reputation of Augie Garrido.
They (Texas) put a lot of pressure on every team that they’ve played. One in which if you are not prepared, you can find yourself four or five runs down and then everything changes. The pitchers have a tendency to relax and then one of the guys in their lineup hits the ball out of the ballpark and now it’s eight to nothing and the ball game is over. It’s a great, exciting brand of baseball, and I hope he doesn’t play this every year. That’s what people don’t understand. He only plays this when he feels like he needs to. He adjusts his style to his material. And that probably what is so impressive about great coaches is that they are able to take what they have and mold them into winners. That’s what’s so impressive about Augie and his accomplishments.
I guess one of the things that is so exciting for us as coaches is seeing a young man get an opportunity that you didn’t really think he was going to get. For an example, when Marc LaMacchia got hurt, and he can pitch, that’s a shame that Marc went down for the year. And Trent Peterson got a chance. Trent Peterson took the bull by the horns at Stanford, pitched in three ball games, and we decided okay, ‘let’s give him a chance in the rotation.’ Not only did he go from three to one, he became a poised, polished looking guy, and of course the professional people picked him up in the fifth round. Daniel Davidson was the middle reliever. Daniel got an opportunity because Mark (LaMacchia) got hurt, Trent was not figured in, Sauls kind of faltered a little bit, all of a sudden there he is getting a chance. That is about the only way to explain it. They took advantage of their opportunities.
We haven’t played anybody that plays that style of baseball. And that’s another thing that is a credit to the University of Texas and the way they play baseball. You’re facing a situation that you haven’t really been introduced to, you can safety squeeze in practice and the guy pops the ball up in the air. You think well that’s what’s going happen in a game, that doesn’t happen when you play Texas. They’ll get the ball on the ground and create problems for you. We haven’t (seen that style of baseball) in the Atlantic Coast Conference, nobody plays that way. Stanford doesn’t play that way. Heck, you go all the way around the country and there’s not anybody that’s going put that type of pressure on you. He’s (Garrido) the best. Why doesn’t everybody play that way?
Players on the average don’t want to be looked at as a bunter. They are trying to impress people and get into professional baseball via the long ball or scorching one off the wall. They don’t want to bunt. But what we’ve all got to remember is that there is a bottom line. There is an accountability factor. That’s winning or losing. I don’t remember it bothering Mark Kotsay or (Jason) Giambi, those guys still do a pretty good job of a making a living. It’s also the fact that you have to be a guy that can sell it to your ball club. We sell it to our eighth and ninth hitter with no problem.
I think, obviously, two out of three series, every game is important. The fact that we lost the first game (the last two years) obviously puts a lot of pressure on you. But by winning the second we didn’t put any pressure on them boys the next game…so, it’s kind of one of those situations you know you’ve got to win two ball games to advance.
He (Eddy Martinez-Esteve) ran yesterday and ran about 80%. So, that’s not his forte anyway. As long as he doesn’t clog the bases up, or put a lot of pressure on Carol’s son down (Florida State third base coach Mike Martin, Jr.) there at third. It’s tough when you get a base hit to center field and you don’t know if the guy can score from second. But I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. He did not show that yesterday. He showed me that he could score from second on any triple.”
Head Coach, University of Texas
“Mike was very generous in his comments and I respect Mike as the top coach in college baseball. And the friendship is real and it has been for a long time. So, this is a very special moment for us, we won’t be meeting in Omaha where we hoped to meet. But we will be playing for something very important. And the teams will both be excited and energized by their opportunities. One of the best teams in the country is going to be eliminated here.
So you have in fact an Omaha-type, College World Series-type championship tournament here in Tallahassee, with either one of these two teams capable of going on to win the National Championship. So you are going to see some mighty fine baseball.
Our team is an interesting team. It is probably still in development. We have J.P. Howell, will most likely be our starting pitcher (in game one). He’s been our most consistent pitcher during the season. Justin Simmons who was last year’s All-American with a 16 and 1 record will probably start the second game is left handed as well. Justin’s had a tough time of it this year like many players do. The old sophomore, post All-American syndrome kind of has followed him around. In the last five games however, he has pitched at the same level of consistency that he did last year when he ran off 16 wins. In four of the five games we didn’t have any runs for him. And it is a team sport. And he did his part and the runs weren’t on the board so we didn’t get a W for it.
If we move into a third game then we would have to make a decision based on what we use to get to that third game as to who would pitch. The most recent above average pitching performances for us have come from two freshmen. Sam LeCure threw nine innings in a championship environment against A&M and we won the game against Texas A&M, putting us into the final game. Then just recently J. Brent Cox, a freshman, turned in a fine performance, and he’s actually been more consistent throughout the season then any of the other freshman. But it would most likely go into the hands of a freshman if there is a third game.
Huston Street doesn’t understand post All-American jinxes. He’s doing exactly the same thing now that he did last year. He’s coming out and he’s been effective in short relief. And he will be our closer. Now the problem with that is that he’s also our third baseman. So he’s playing third and closing the game and it takes exceptional athletic ability to field those two positions at the same time. And we do go down hill a little bit when he’s not doing that defensively. But if anyone can do it, he probably can. So that’s kind of how our pitching stacks up.
We are starting a freshman behind the plate, Taylor Teagarden. We’ve converted a catcher, Curtis Thigpen, into the first baseman. He’s come along in the last two or three weeks. He’s had really some important hits for us. Our second baseman is Tim Moss, played there last year, playing there this year, playing at the same level. And then Omar Quintanilla who played third for us last year has played short this year. And has done the same kind of job at short that he did at third for us both offensively and defensively he has been a very consistent player. In left field we’re going with a right-handed hitter, Eric Sultemeier, a very fine athlete. We think our outfield is an above average Division I outfield defensively. It performs pretty well offensively as well. Joe Ferin, who’s a senior, will be our center fielder, left handed hitter. He has really come along and provided a lot of leadership and does an above average job in center field at this level. And then in right field is Dustin Majewski who came back for his senior year and has continued to perform like he did last year, up to this point in time, and has provided a lot of leadership. So that’s pretty much the ball club as it stands now as we enter into this tournament.
We are excited about being here. This will be a championship, a national championship type tournament. The games should be terrific.
Dustin is a…Dustin wants to be a coach. So he thinks baseball, he lives baseball and he performs as a throw back to the way baseball players that they used to call, you know, field rats. They’re always out there, like in basketball it’s the gym and it was the same thing, there are always at he ballpark or at the yard. He sees himself as a person able to perform and actually is batting 100 points higher with runners in scoring position then he is without runners in scoring position. So, the thing is, his lowest batting average of all those different types that we keep, is when he has to lead off or something like that. Because there isn’t that same subconscious incentive in him. But he’s a champion and he’s done a good job.
The other thing I might add is Dustin Majewski. Dustin was named the student athlete of the year for all men’s sports at the University of Texas. So, academically he is just a very focused, well-rounded, well-balanced, highly competitive, fun student-athlete to be around. His teammates really respect him; all the coaches really respect him.
I think what we have is a good team. We have good teamwork, we have good team chemistry, and we have people that support each other.
Mike (Martin) was talking about the fun. He and I talk about it a lot. So on the point he made, he was right on as always about kids don’t want to bunt because of the ego, and that’s why I make em bunt. That’s one of the main reasons. The other thing is we don’t always have the most talented hitters, and hitting is the most difficult thing in sport, according to Sports Illustrated. So if you are going to have balance to your line up, and this is my philosophy, I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that I’m thinking of the underdog. I’m thinking of the littlest guy on the team in high school for example, or the weakest guy in the line up who has trouble contributing offensively by hitting. Let’s say he is the shortstop just for an easy example, well if he can bunt and if he can contribute to the offense by bunting, now when Kotsay bunts, it’s a little bit democratic. Everybody bunts and there is a oneness that I think comes from that. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know.
The other thing is we have three outs to score a run and I want to get that (run). I don’t treat the whole game like it’s nine innings like the old days. People may ask ‘well what’s he doing in the first inning.’ Well what I’m trying to do is get a run. The best thing for a pitcher’s curve ball, in my opinion, is a five run lead. And the sooner you get that run, the more comfortable your defense plays and the more effective your pitcher is. That isn’t always the case, but that’s my thinking. One of the most important statistics we like to keep is, how many runs do we have in relationship to how many hits do we have. We don’t want to have two hits for every run. We want to have as close to one hit for every run as possible. Any way we can get it with all the elements of offense.
When the first announcement comes up and you see on the board that Florida State, the No. 1, and rightfully so, seeded team in the country and we’re thinking we should be in the top 8 in the country, and now all of a sudden their reward as well as our reward is that if we win we get to play each other. That’s thrilling. So, that was my first though, was ‘wow did we fall to 16 in this thing, and how did we fall to 16.’