May 29, 2003
Florida State University Head Coach Mike Martin
“As I stand here today, I look back on the days when Steve (Kittrell) was a player. We used to have unbelievable games with South Alabama back in the mid 70’s. That’s where the crowds would really show up for South Alabama. And I look at Terry and what he has accomplished at Jacksonville and what Fred has done at Rutgers. You look at these three guys and you know nothing that you do is going to surprise or intimidate. This is setting up for a great regional. There is a lot of excitement about to happen in Tallahassee, Florida. This is really going to be a great regional. Anybody can win this thing. This is a wide-open regional.
We are obviously excited to be hosting. My standing here today is really a surprise. How in the world can an athletic department provide a baseball team with $13.5 million in renovations and we never left where we are staying in our clubhouse and we are hosting a regional. That’s a credit to our athletic department and the construction people. Its an unbelievable achievement. Everybody seems to be adding on to their stadium or building new stadiums but they don’t stay in their own backyards. We were able to stay in our own backyard because of the outstanding organization that has been displayed here by the people doing the construction and our athletic department. It makes me very proud of that because regional baseball is very important to Tallahassee and Florida State University.
Our two pitchers will be Matt Lynch and Trent Peterson. Stephen Drew is sick and he did not practice yesterday or today. But we think he’ll be ready to go tomorrow. I would have thought if we’d practiced at 4 p.m. he would have been there. He’s got a little flu virus and we are hoping he’ll be okay tomorrow.
Matt Lynch is a young man who has opened three straight regionals for us. He’s a young man that is a very poised kid who enjoys competition and is probably the key to the success we have had this year. Matt Lynch returning for his senior year we never thought he was coming back so we are very excited about having him on our team and opening up this tournament.
What impresses me the most about our team is our ability to compete. You can’t teach a young man to be a certain way. A man normally doesn’t change when he puts on a uniform, or when a man walks outside of his house he is what he is. I have just been impressed with Tony Richie, Jerrod Brown, (Tony) McQuade and (Matt) Sauls everybody on our team. Blake Balkcom is a good competitor. If you in Jamey Shouppe’s rotation you are going to compete.
Rutgers Head Coach Fred Hill
First I’d like to say that it’s a pleasure to be here and to be able to compete against the fellows that are here. These are all excellent programs. I am not sure what is in store for us, but I know that we will have our hands full.
Of course I am not sure if we will get there, but it would certainly be a pleasure to play against Mike’s team. Anytime you can play against the teams that are ranked way up there, it is a pleasure, especially when you are coming out of the Northeast.
We have a very young team. We had to replace eight pitchers a year ago. I didn’t know how we could do that.
We went to Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida Atlantic and Florida International in some preseason type trips. We were 2-10 and I didn’t know if we were going in the right direction, but our kids really did a great job.
Our guys really like to play. They will play you nine innings regardless of what the score is.
We have excellent facilities, we have an excellent place to practice, but the one thing you can’t do is put it all together. You can drill, drill, drill, but if the weather doesn’t cooperate, we can’t get outside and play intersquad games or put all those drills together. Mike does a great job, but I’d like to see Mike coaching up in the snow.
At this time of the year, after you have played, there are no excuses; you have to be ready to play. That is one of the reasons we play the schedule we do early, we want our players to play the top people in the country. We want them to see what those players are like. We want them to know where they have to get to. I think it helps us to be honest with you.
Our kids had no idea they were going to the tournament. We were very disappointed last year. We thought we had a pretty good ball club. We went 35-22 and didn’t get in. This year, our kids were really hoping that we would get in this year. We got a break, because the first regional that came up on the screen was Florida State and then Rutgers popped up next and our kids went wild. We had some anxious moments beforehand.
South Alabama Head Coach Steve Kittrell
When we saw Florida State come up, we just didn’t anticipate coming here. We felt that we would maybe get somewhere a little bit closer.
We open up against the Big East Champion. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Rutgers. Notre Dame took it to us last year. Two years ago it was Seton Hall that took it to us. So you don’t have to worry about us overlooking the Big East. We have a lot of respect. We played Connecticut this year.
Of course with Mike Martin, we have always had trouble winning here. He has the best program in the country and the number one seed. They deserve to be. We are just disappointed that we ended up here. We felt like our RPI was a little bit higher than a team being sent to play the number one seed in the country.
We have a tremendous amount of respect for them (Jacksonville). That is a tough draw for the number one seed in the country; to get Jacksonville a team that has beaten Miami two out of three and won eight of their last ten games.
It’s an awfully tough regional. We realized this was the hand we were dealt and that we had to go deal with it. There is nothing we can do about it. We’re here at a very tough regional, but all regionals are tough. So we are excited to be here.
Our guys have worked very hard and I think now they are refocused and they are excited. They know they have a tough job to do and they know that it has to start tomorrow with a great Rutgers team.
It’s going to be a great atmosphere. With the fans Florida State has, for our kids to be able to play in front of. I know we are looking forward to it.
This year we are not the running team that the Jags have been over the years. We will hit and run a little bit, but not as much as some of the teams we’ve played. We are a balanced club, one thru nine. That has been our strength. Our defense has really been good for most of the year. Right now our pitching is in question and we have to make a change or two in the way we are handling our pitching staff.
Our kids have been here and played here and I think that is always an advantage to know the field and kind of know the environment that you are up against. I think that is somewhat of an advantage.
Jacksonville Head Coach Terry Alexander
“The last five regionals I have been in, four of them have been right here. We are very familiar with coming over to Tallahassee. I love this school (Florida State), this is my school, this is my alma mater and I’ll always feel proud to come over here to Tallahassee.
A lot of the things we do at Jacksonville University, we do to emulate what Mike (Martin) has done. A lot of the baseball that I teach now is stuff that I learned from Mike. It comes back in a full circle. I am very proud that the Seminoles are the No. 1 ranked team and the fact that they are the number one seed in this tournament. It is tough to come in and play that team, but it isn’t hard to get your guys up to play the No. 1 team in the country.
Our guys are ready and we are going to go out and play as hard as we can. We are familiar with the stadium, with the field, so there is not anything that will be a surprise. We know a little bit about the team. There is nothing that will really be a surprise.
We were here in two years ago, but two years ago was 2001, and we only have three guys on our team that were here then. This is a brand new ball club. This is everybody’s first regional, except those three guys. It’s going to be a challenge. We played really good baseball during the last five or six weeks of the season. We got on a roll and we got to where we were making a lot less mistakes.
It’s time to put up or shut up. We are going to line up and see how we do it. Again, it’s just an honor to be here.
We know how good Florida State is. We know that they are very talented. Last year, going into the ninth inning, we had Florida State 13-0 at Jacksonville. We have also played games where we had no chance after the first inning.
I think Florida State is a team, where if you make mistakes, they’ll take advantage of them. I don’t think that there is any team in the country that does it any better than Mike and the boys. If you make a mistake, you are going to pay for it. We have to minimize our mistakes, in order to stay in the game.
Right now our players are the most confident that they have been all season long. I think we will play well. This will be fun.
Right now we are playing our best baseball. Not everyone can say that they are playing their best baseball of the year at the right time. For all of the teams I have had going into regionals, I have never had one playing their best baseball at the right time.”