| 2004 NCAA Baseball Tournament – Tallahassee Regional|
Thursday, June 3, 2003
|Pre-Tournament Coaches’ Quotes|
| Oklahoma State Coach Frank Anderson|
“This is my first head coaching job since I was a C-Team head football coach in 1986 at a junior high in Big Springs, Texas. So, it’s been a unique year. I’ve coached at every level and now I’m at this level so it’s been a unique situation. It’s my first head coaching job at a division one level, obviously.
We got into Stillwater kind of late in the year after the World Series last year, and we were fortunate enough to pick up about three or four kids before the season started. We got in there and tried to build something as quick as we could. We started the season in 28 degree weather with our first game, and we did play. The wind-chill was about 16 but we felt like we needed to get outside and get things going. We thought hitting was going to be our main focus of the team. We finished second to last in home runs and second to last in stolen bases in the conference which is kind of an unusual combination; you don’t usually want to have those combinations.
The thing that we have done throughout the season and most of this year is we competed at pretty high levels. The kids have given us great effort and that’s the main thing that we’ve asked about them; give us whatever you’ve got. That’s the only thing that you can determine is your effort and they’ve given us great effort. We had a stretch where we played very well in the middle of the season in the conference. We only pitch about four or five or six guys total and we wore them down a little bit and we had a little bit of a slide late in the year in conference season.
We go into the conference tournament and I felt like we had a chance if we could go through the winners bracket and not get to the losers bracket. We were fortunate to go through and play four games. We got three outstanding pitching performances in the conference tournament and then the last day was a marathon that we finally won in the end. We had a lot of guys step up. We have some feature guys that a lot of people know about, Josh Fields and Jason Jaramillo, that we kind of built our club around. We start three freshmen — our centerfielder, first base, and a DH.
We don’t have a lot of feature guys; we do play pretty hard for most of the time we are out there. The kids have done a great job with it and it’s been a transition year for us, obviously with we me coming from University of Texas. It’s been a fun year; we’ve been to Florida already. We played in a tournament in Stetson and really enjoyed ourselves down here. Coach Martin and Florida State, they do a great job. We were in here last year and it rained for three or four days and it was amazing the job they did on the field to get that thing ready. So, we are excited. Obviously, the competition is outstanding and we look forward to playing down here.
We probably would have started Thomas Cowley, but he had to throw four innings in the championship game in relief. So, probably Spencer Grogan or Scott Richmond but probably Spencer Grogan. Our situation is a little bit strange in that we were not sure if we were in or not. You don’t ever know for sure, so you try to win that conference championship, obviously. In my first year, I felt like it was important for us to have some success and for the kids to have some success. We have no kids that have ever won a conference tournament game.
The heat index in Arlington was 101 on Sunday. Obviously, it’s a factor for everybody whether you live here or not. We’ve never talked about it; I never even bring it up. Even when it was 28 and we were all freezing, I never brought it up. I don’t think you can use anything as an excuse. I like this as lot better than 28 degrees.”
UCF Head Coach Jay Bergman
Matt Fox has had an incredible year from a player drafted out of high school in the sixth round to a player who wanted to come and play two positions and finally realized that he couldn’t hit and his best position was on the mound. Kyle Bono is our number two pitcher. Kyle was our reliever last year. Kyle had never pitched but for one year in high school, and came in as freshman last year and became our closer. This year he stepped up into a starting role for us and has been outstanding. Taylor Meier, a very interesting player, he’s 6-foot-6, a local boy from Orlando, who we’ve just been able to bring along in the right sequence of games for confidence and he pitched very well against Notre Dame and he shutout South Florida, at a higher level than we expected. Those three plus Darren Newlin, a transfer from Tallahassee Community College, have pitched well for us and Mike Billek. Those five pretty much anchor our starters.
A lot of people say this a home run friendly park (is the most important thing) and it certainly is, but good pitching is going to survive and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Whoever has the deepest pitching staff and that doesn’t necessarily mean starters it means bullpen, and that’s one thing that’s really hurt us. In NCAA tournament play because our conference plays seven inning double headers, we really don’t get a chance to get into that eighth and ninth inning. It hurts us in developing that guy that you need to have come in and fill-in for you and become your closer or a set-up guy. So, that concerns me an awful lot, and that’s one of the reasons our schedule is the way it is. We scheduled LSU, we went to Notre Dame to play, we played a weekend series with Clemson, and we felt like in those series we were able to get our pitching pretty well squared away and we had success in those series. I think that we’ll do alright, but those players that are going to be in that position as pitchers are young freshmen.”
Bethune-Cookman Head Coach Mervyl Melendez
Our season has been very different to what we have experienced in the past. We’ve had every single player in the lineup hurt throughout the year. I am proud to say that we have won 27 games. Not a lot of teams can say we have won 27 games and we are one game over .500 and their year has been just okay. But not having a steady lineup throughout the year and being able to win 27 games with the quality teams that we have played we played UCF four times and we play a lot of the Division I Florida teams with the exception of the big three here in the state of Florida and we have been very competitive.
Our main guys have been Juan Figueroa who has led our team in hitting this year with a .380 or close batting average. Sebastien Boucher has done an extremely great job for us in center field this year. He is a guy who has gotten better as the year has gone on. He has 39 stolen bases somewhere in that neighborhood and he has hit .360 for us.
If we can pitch, we will be okay, we’ll be competitive. I can’t make any predictions how we are going to do or how we are going to play. We have been off for five weeks. I don’t think anybody in the NCAA Tournament can say they have been off for five weeks. Our tournament is so early and we can’ really do a whole lot. We can simulate a game and we can simulate the intensity of that game but you really don’t know what you are getting into unless you experience a regional. Fortunately we have some guys who have been here before, some guys who have gone to regionals. We have a lot of junior college transfers so most of the guys have been here one year in regional play. Hopefully we will make the best out of it. We are going to be competitive. We are going to show up as good as we are going to be having been out for five weeks. It’s not to make an excuse but everyone who plays this game knows that you have to be in the middle of things to be at your best game. Hopefully this layoff will get some our guys healthy enough that we can show up and we can do a good job.
I’ll go on record and say this is the best regional we have been to in the past six years. We have been to Florida and we have been to Miami and we are here for the third time and we really enjoy it here. We are happy to be here and hopefully we can give you guys a treat.”
Florida State Head Coach Mike Martin
I think what has been more impressive about our club is we lost our No. 1 guy four weeks ago in Hunter Jones. He was a very big part of our club. But yet, the young men have moved on. What it did, gave other guys an opportunity. And they have taken full advantage of their opportunity.
Eddie Cannon was the Friday night guy for along time. In fact, he jumped Hunter in the middle of the year. So, Eddie Cannon will start. He’s a senior right hander.
I don’t think I’ve ever been happier or more satisfied obviously things went our way Sunday but it was just a situation that makes this came the most unpredictable game there is. You can look at a baseball schedule and you can think you are going to win some games it’s not going to work that way. You can look at some football schedules and you can look at three or four games and you know there is no way this particular team can lose to the other club. It doesn’t happen that way in baseball. Anything can happen and last weekend is a weekend that I’ll never forget because the young men really, really got after it. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a dugout with as much energy as that one had in Sunday’s game.
I have followed Mervel’s career for a good while and he’s always in a regional. I think that just says it right there that they know what they are doing. I thought Florida A&M had a good club this year and Bethune handled them with no problem. Consistency is what is about and that’s a consistent coach with a consistent program. They have come up here and played very and we know that we have our work cut out for us. We have got to play very well.”