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June 19, 2014

Will Allen

Mike Bianco

Sikes Orvis


Ole Miss – 6
TCU – 4

THE MODERATOR:  Representing Ole Miss, head coach Mike Bianco, designated hitter Will Allen, and first baseman, Sikes Orvis.  Coach, if you'd begin with an opening statement?
COACH BIANCO:  First, congratulations to TCU and Coach Schlossnagle for a tremendous year.  It was a great baseball game.  We're fortunate we got some timely hits, and that's what this comes down to.  Getting good hits with runners on, and we were able to do that on the other side of the ball, and we made pitches to get out of the innings.  Proud of our guys.
It was one of those, it was asked a couple days ago in a press conference about our offense, and we had a good offensive day today.  The guys sitting next to me, Will Allen and Sikes certainly led the charge.  But I thought we had some better at‑bats today, and it shows you wind is not blowing in 20 miles an hour.  It's a little different here.  But we were able to barrel some balls up and get some hits.

Q.  Mike, just kind of talk about the job the bullpen did earlier this year in the Mississippi State series when Greenwood was hurt.  Guys like Wyatt were forced to be in there in a big series like that.  Talk about the job they did tonight and how that bullpen has evolved since then?
COACH BIANCO:  Yeah, I really think Kendall is maybe the difference in our season the last maybe six weeks of the year.  We went from just relying on one guy at the end to kind of the guy of the day.  You saw a bunch of them today from Laxer to Short, and Greenwood at the end, Weathersby, Massie, all of those guys have been huge parts of the bullpen.  It seems every Game 1 of those guys steps up and does a great job.  Today we need all of them.  We had that bad fourth inning where we couldn't get the ball into the strike zone.  Felt they had some hits, but certainly four walks in one inning, you're not going to get out of it with some runs.  I thought Laxer did a great job minimizing and getting out it of it with one run, and the bullpen held it from there.

Q.  Mike, just talk about the catching situation with Will and what he's going through, and then Austin's job that he did tonight?
COACH BIANCO:  Yeah, you know, Will hurt his shoulder in the Super Regional, and with the rest we thought he would be okay.  But as we got deeper into these games and the throwing and a lot of people don't realize when you're catcher, it's not just one throw to second base, it's nine throws to second base in between innings and 150 times back to the mound.  So the shoulder has progressively gotten worse.  So we made a decision yesterday in practice if it wasn't feeling better today that we'd go with Knight.  But we needed Will's bat in the lineup, so certainly he'd DH.

Q.  What about Austin?
COACH BIANCO:  I thought Austin was tremendous.  We knew that.  He's terrific as a catch and throw guy behind the plate, and probably would have played more except Will has been so terrific, it's hard to play a game without your four‑hole guy.  So because Will's year has been so good, Austin just hasn't had as many opportunities.

Q.  Will, four out of your last five games now have been your back against the wall, elimination games and you've won all of them.  Is there something about this team, the makeup of it that allows you guys to do well in that situation?
WILL ALLEN:  Yeah, definitely.  It's something we've talked about from the beginning of the season.  You know, the off‑season we really worked hard just on and off the field, just really being tough.  I mean, it's just kind of been something that the team has really taken to, just the mindset of 1 through 9 throughout the lineup.  We have guys that can step up and really be the hero on any given day.  Like you guys said, the starting pitching and bullpen has been great.
But I mean, it's just something with this team when our back's up against the wall, we play really good baseball.  Just a tough team, very confident team, and we've continued to do it throughout the whole season.
SIKES ORVIS:  Yeah, kind of like what Will said, we really prepared this fall about being a tough team, coming out and being able to embrace adversity.  We did a good job tonight giving up that three spot that one inning and coming back and answering.  Cron hit that home run and we answered again.  It just shows how tough this team is, man.  It's hard to keep us down.  We keep coming.  Like Coach B. and Will were saying, it could be any team any given night.  That's what makes this team special.  The guys are confident 1 through 9 in the lineup.  We have confidence that whoever comes in can throw strikes and get the job done for us.

Q.  How much do your eyes light up as hitters when you look out and see the flag not flying right in your face, and when you got a little offense going there in the third inning, did it build on itself?
SIKES ORVIS:  I know for me personally, I like to try to drive the ball.  Seeing the wind blowing in like that kind of knocks me off my game a little bit.  So finally got out there in BP and we were hitting, and the ball was carrying a little bit, so we all got wide eyed.  The game got going, and when it stayed the same, we were like all right, we can swing tonight.  Then started having some good at‑bats together.  Lot of guys got good swings off.  Once this offense gets going, man, we're going to be really good 1 through 9.  So once we got the ice broken, we came out and started swinging the bat, and guys 1 through 9 were putting the bats together and getting the job done.
WILL ALLEN:  Adding to what Sikes said, as a hitter, the first thing you're looking at is the wind, and unfortunately the first couple days here it was just gusting in.  So, obviously, our approach changed a little bit.  You've got to get on top of the baseball, hit line drives, ground balls.  But, yeah, once we showed up, Sikes was the first person to tell me look at the flag, and definitely took a look.  In BP it was definitely traveling better than our first couple days.
But, I mean, just being consistent and doing what Coach Godwin says, get on top of the ball.  Luckily we had some good barrels tonight.  Found some gaps, found some holes, and then just getting people on base.  You saw Bous running, and just putting pressure on the opposing team definitely, definitely helps.  Once we get going, like Sikes said, 1 through 9 there is not an easy out.  Really tough lineup to face, I believe.  And luckily we scored some runs tonight.

Q.  Will, just your thoughts on Austin Knight and his performance tonight, and apparently the injury situation with you or it doesn't affect your swinging?
WILL ALLEN:  Yeah, shoulder feels fine.  Pretty much doing everything except throwing, and that's something that the coaching staff, myself, and the trainer, Josh Porter, definitely talked about.  I didn't really want to be the reason why something went wrong in a game.  Obviously, it didn't get better over the past couple days with the rest, so they went ahead and made that decision.
Like Coach said, really no surprise how Austin Knight caught.  He's been an unbelievable catcher throughout his career here.  Throws a lot of guys out, blocking the ball, receiving, does a really good job.  Obviously, very proud of him, but I think all of our team knew exactly what you were going to get when you put him out there.  I mean, he definitely did his part and held his own.  He's obviously a really great catcher.  He's going to be good for years to come.

Q.  Coach, can you talk about facing Virginia again tomorrow a little bit?  Does that kind of alleviate any pressure since you've already seen them before like putting together a scouting report or anything?
COACH BIANCO:  I don't know about alleviating pressure.  But, yeah, you've seen them, you went through the lineup one time, of course, and watched them in a bunch of games before then.  So I think it's not‑‑ but you're in that four team bracket.  So I think at this point when you're in the tournament, that's pretty normal.

Q.  Will, how does your approach as a designated hitter kind of change as a catcher?  Obviously as a catcher you're involved in the entire game and there is so much time off, how does that change you as a hitter?
WILL ALLEN:  Really not too much.  You just have to stay in the game and cheer on your teammates, all of that.  There is a tunnel back there that I can go and loosen up and take some swings and all of that, just kind of as I see my at‑bat coming and getting a little bit closer.
But it really doesn't change.  I've done it a couple games this year, mid‑week games and stuff like that.  I've done it before in my career here.  I did it all last year, stuff like that.  It gives you a little bit more time to watch the pitcher, see what he's doing, tendencies like that.  Whereas if I'm catching, regardless, good at‑bat, bad at‑bat, I'm right back in the game and I've got to play defense.

Q.  Coach, what were your thoughts on Austin's performance tonight, especially since he hadn't been in the CWS?  He hasn't played much recently.

Q.  Yeah, Austin.
COACH BIANCO:  Lot of Austin Knight questions.  We should have had him here.  Again, like Will said, it's not a surprise.  He's a kid, and I think it was said in the last press conference, we used our bench a lot, especially the position players maybe more so than a lot of other teams.  Tonight we played three different second basemen.  So got a lot of confidence in him.  As I said earlier, I think he probably deserves more playing time.  Unfortunately we have so many guys to get in the lineup, and it's hard to get Will out of the lineup.  So he's your four‑hole hitter and you can DH him like we did tonight.  But if you do that, it takes an opportunity from somebody else away.
So I thought he was terrific tonight.  Probably just as big as the catching was the sack bunt.  Your first at‑bat, like you said, in a while, and you're in the College World Series playing in front of 25,000 and who knows how many millions on television.  First pitch, boom, sacrifice bunt, and get to push the first runner across, so very proud of him.

Q.  Mike, how do you come out of here just pitching staff‑wise going into tomorrow?  Will it be Ellis tomorrow to start?
COACH BIANCO:  We're not sure yet.  We'll talk to Coach Lafferty when we get back to the hotel.  We'll meet as a staff and make that decision.  I think we're okay, but as these game, as you start now three days in a row, it's not as big a deal with the starters because obviously you're going to start a guy that you think can go some innings.  It's how you tax the bullpen.
So whoever it is, hopefully we can get some innings under our belt and not have to get there so soon.  But it's one of the things that we've got several guys that haven't pitched yet, but we'll make that decision later this evening or probably early tomorrow morning.
THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to thank Coach Bianco and the Ole Miss student‑athletes for joining us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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