May 28, 2009
Florida State Head Coach Mike Martin
“I want to say congratulations to the three coaches because it is not easy to get to the postseason. In the middle of the year we are all wondering what does the future hold and I had that early this year. It’s a great accomplishment and congratulations to you.”
On the teams character
“It just goes to show you what character on a club can accomplish. We had two starters go to the bullpen after three weeks, both of them pitched in the College World Series last year. There was no griping, no complaining, just how can they help the ball club get better. That was a big part of why our team was able to turn it around, it was because of the attitude, the camaraderie. That’s something that is important to all of us coaches and something that can disappear.”
On the regional
“This is a very challenging regional that we are in. You don’t read a lot about Marist in the south, but they are a very good baseball program. There is outstanding baseball played in the north, we just don’t compete against those teams. Coach [Bob] Todd has been to regionals on a regular basis, a Hall of Fame coach of an outstanding program. What David [Perno] has accomplished in his short tenure at Georgia is unbelievable, playing for [the title] last season. We’ve got a field that is extremely competitive and it is setting up to be an extremely exciting regional.”
On reminding the team about last year’s Bucknell loss
“Our team understands the game and understands that a team like Bucknell comes in and shuts us down. Marist can do the same thing, and certainly anybody else can do the same thing. Postseason is a time of the year that a lot of things happen all over the country and we know that Marist is very well coached and we have to play very well to be successful. If we don’t we’ll be playing a twelve o’ clock game the next day.”
Georgia Head Coach Dave Perno
Well I guess to reiterate what Coach Todd said, if you need to go on the road, this is where you want to come. Just because obviously Coach Martin is one of the best in the business, if not the best. And the event staff, we’ve had the opportunity to play here last year for a mid-week series, and they do it right. It’s first class and we look forward to the opportunity. As far as us, I think we’re better than we’ve been in month, six weeks. I think we’ve gotten our guys back on track offensively and we got our pitching in line. Now we just need to hope that we play well. I think that we did a little bit of that last week, and we had an opportunity to make a run in the SEC tournament, things just didn’t work out on Saturday against a good LSU team. As far as our guys, mentality wise, and where we are, I think we’re in better shape than we’ve been in about four five weeks, so we’re excited.
What was the reason for the change in mentality:
A lot of that rode on the Florida series about a month ago, where we lost three games by four runs and that’s when we were in first place in our league and leading our division, and things just didn’t work out. I think we were a little disappointed, a little shell-shocked. Things had worked so well up until that point, and just went the complete other direction. I think it carried over for a couple of weeks, I really do. I think we were a little flat the following weekend, and got stung again. And it kind of just kept snowballing on us, and I think we had to regroup and say that we’re going to get another chance at the championship at the SEC tournament and we responded by playing well in the first two games, or three of the four games we played. And we knew we’d get an opportunity for the post-season which is now. So we’re excited that we have another opportunity to win a championship, but you got to play well. There’s great teams here, great coaches, and programs with a lot of tradition. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be difficult.
On the importance of the wins against Ole Miss and Arkansas:
I think that was it, just knowing we could win again. We went from a team that was number one in the country and leading our league, to a team that was just searching for some identity and going down there and beating a really good Ole Miss team and Arkansas those first two games really helped us on a standpoint of getting our confidence back. Also it let us see exactly what we needed to do with our lineup, and having an opportunity of playing two more games, so we got a real good idea of where we want our pitchers and what our rotation needs to look like and what our lineup needs to look like.
On Rich Poythress:
He’s been great. One of the biggest transformations he’s made this year is going from a role player, from a kid who hit behind a star, to a kid that had to be the star. He’s done it, but he’s also done it from a leadership aspect, and that’s been huge, because this team needed that. I think part of our struggles have coincided with his struggles. He’s gone 2-3 weeks without a homerun and just fighting it a little bit and trying to do too much and I think he’s finally back to where he needs to be. Obviously you won’t know a lot until you get out there tomorrow, but I’ve felt a lot better about what he’s done the last couple days in BP and this week. I think if he goes, I think everyone else will go. He’s been the key for us offensively, and you can tell. He’s slowed down and we’ve definitely had a hard time scoring runs.
How important in having players with experience:
Yeah, I looked at some the regional games and the super regional games and the games in Omaha, and the highlight reels before we came down this week and I was amazed at the guys that had such a big role on last year’s team. Matt Cerione, Rich Poythress, Joey Lewis, Bryce Massanari, Trevor Holder, Dean Weaver, Alex McRee. Those guys were huge for us. It made us all feel like we had a chance. These guys get going and can play at a high level and be as good as anyone in the country. That should loom large for us, but it comes down to them performing. And them doing the things they did last year to help us advance. I think they’re ready, they’re healthy, we’re healthy as a team, and you just got to get out there and do it.
On being so close to Georgia, and if he expects a large Georgia crowd:
I’d like to say so, but the noon start isn’t helping on Friday, but hopefully we’ll get some here. Usually we get a decent following here, but traditionally we’re nothing more than parents and people who complain about the coach. I’m glad we’re out in a hotel that’s booked so hopefully the parents won’t stay there. It’s getting better, I will say that. Through the years we’ve created a little bit of interest and we’re starting to get more of a following so hopefully they’ll show up this weekend. I can’t promise anything though.
Ohio State – Bob Todd
As I look at this tournament, it’s really interesting, there’s a lot of talented teams in this tournament. Marist may be one of the hottest teams going, they played well at the end of the year. Dave’s teams have been to Omaha, and of course you don’t need to say anything about Mike and what they’ve done here at Florida State. This should really be a challenging tournament. The one thing I can tell you, being here in Tallahassee, we played 27 of our first 29 games on the road. Our people are kind of used to living out a hotel. We really only played four weekends at home this entire year. And it had nothing to do with facilities, it just had something to do with stupid scheduling on our part, and the way the Big Ten schedule played out. So being on the road, really is kind of old hat for us. We’re used to living out of that hotel and playing in different environments and I hope that our players come in here relaxed and do a good job. Obviously you are at a point where you are trying to have fun a little bit, the hard work has already taken place. Earning the spot to be here is important, and now we need to take a deep breath and regroup and try to play some good baseball. I know we were here 14, 15 years ago and we didn’t play good baseball at all. I was really disappointed in our team, and that was one of the better teams that we had. It’s interesting what happens in a short, four-team weekend tournament. It’s amazing. It’s the team that plays the best. You know what, it’s a break here or there along the way that also makes the difference.
On Alex Wimmers:
Going into this season, we did not know who our Friday starter was going to be, it was really kind of a flip of the coin, it was up in the air. Alex early on proved that he wanted the ball on Friday nights and he was the guy that would be our cowbell. If you look at some of the quality wins he’s had, he deserves to be there. At times, just like any other kid, he’s struggled on certain occasions. I will tell you that he’s done a good job for us, pitching number one, and just hope that he has a good outing tomorrow.
About being worried about Georgia’s power:
Well it’s a huge concern, any time you hit that many home runs, I don’t think we’ve hit that many in four years as a team. They’ve got power, they’ve got the ability with one swing of the bat to score three runs. It’s imperative that your pitchers throw strikes and you play good defense behind him. You start giving a team like Georgia four or five outs in an inning, it becomes a long inning.
On winning Big Ten regular season, but not the tournament title, and if that has any effect mentally or physically on the team:
That’s a good question, and I got asked that a lot over this past weekend. The last three weekends of the regular season were a grind for us, and our players knew it. They felt like there was no margin for error. And to be honest with you, we go over to and play in Champaign, Illinois and play the University of Illinois, who at the time I thought was an NCAA tournament team. They had gone down to Baton Rouge and beaten LSU two of three early in the year, and had some other real good wins. They had a quality team. We got them beat 4-2 with one out in the ninth. We throw the ball around, make a couple of errors, and I’m sure all of you have read about our closer Jake Hale, and at that time we were 30-1 with a lead from the 7th inning on, and we bring him in and end up losing the game 5-4 to them in the bottom of the ninth. I’ve been doing this for a long time, maybe not as long as Mike, but I’ve been doing this for 36 years, and I told my assistants that I’ve never heard a bus any more quiet than that bus trip back from the ballpark to the hotel. We really had to find a way to regroup. We did. We did that. And once we won the regular season championship which determines the Big Ten Championship, there was a let down by our team. We just had to exhale so to speak and regroup. And let’s hope that we’ve done that. I will tell you complicated with that, which I’ve always had trouble with, and I’ve been at some other schools where I’ve coached at, and this is the only school Ohio State, and I’ve been there 20 something years, and I still have trouble getting used to it, but we are on the quarter system. So our kids are still in school, and I think we’re the only school here that’s still in school. And coupled with that, we’re at the end of it, but our players are turning in term papers, and getting ready to take finals. I’ve been in the regionals several times at Ohio State and to get to Omaha and have kids taking finals along with the grind at the end of the year, I’m not making excuses, I’m just telling you what our kids have been going through. It’s been a challenge.
Asked to talk about Wimmers and Hale, and then also about Dan Burkhart and Justin Miller:
We’ve only got three seniors on this ball club and Justin Miller is one of them. He’s one of the few people in Ohio State history to be elected a captain two years in a row. And he went through a period where I could tell that he was frustrated, he was struggling and you could see the weight of the world was on his shoulders to try and produce and get this team to win. We had a good long talk and I told him you can only play as well as you can play, so let’s take the pressure off of you and let everybody do a little bit of the work and he did that. And the last three weekends of the year hit like .680 and about 5 or 7 homeruns, really did a tremendous job. I don’t know how many RBI he had during that stretch, but he was a key factor in us making a run at a championship. And I think most of you have seen where Dan Burkhart, catcher, is one of the 12 or 14 finalist for the Johnny Bench Award. He’s really doing a tremendous job for us defensively. Begin to pat Mike Martin on the back here, he had a volunteer coach here a couple years ago that we kind of stole away from him, Pete Jenkins, and Pete has done a heck of a job at developing him and turning him into an outstanding defensive catcher. Along with that, he’s put up quality numbers offensively too, so for him to be mentioned as one of those top people in the country to be in the running for the Johnny Bench award is legitimate.
Marist Head Coach Dennis Healy
“We’re thrilled to be here, the kids played great in the tournament last week. We’ve got some young guys who play a bunch and some seniors who play some roles depending on who is pitching and who we’re playing. This is a great venue, I’ve never been to Florida State, the stadium is awesome and our kids should be excited.”
On his first round starter
“We’re going to start a left hander, [Josh] Rickards. He’s pitched game one for us on the weekends since he was a sophomore. His numbers aren’t the best, but he’s a free spirit and has pitched in front of a bunch of people so I feel like he’s going to be able to handle it and throw strikes. If he doesn’t throw strikes early on, we’ll know right away and it could be 15-2 in a hurry.”
On the keys to the teams recent play
“I think timely hitting, our pitching has been good all year. Our program is built on pitching, we’ve got some guys at the back end that pitch with high velocity and good breaking stuff, but timely hitting has been the key for us. Kyle Meyer hit a huge three-run home run for us in the series against Fairfield and Brian McDonough had a huge double in the game in which we won the tournament.”
On the keys against Florida State
“For the most part our right handers need to do some damage against their left handers and more than anything we’ve got to play well and throw strikes, make plays defensively and get some hits.”