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NCAA MEN'S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES


June 22, 2014


Vince Conde

Tim Corbin

Nathan Kirby

Brian O'Connor

Mike Papi

Dansby Swanson


OMAHA, NEBRASKA

THE MODERATOR:テつ First of all, representing Vanderbilt, head coach Tim Corbin, Vince Conde and Dansby Swanson; representing Virginia, Brian O'Connor, Nathan Kirby and Mike Papi.
Coach Corbin, if you would begin with an opening statement.
COACH CORBIN:テつ I don't feel like we've left since last night, felt like took a shower and just got back up here again.テつ So we had a nice night.テつ Although, a little bit long.テつ But certainly happy to be in this position right now.テつ It's been a very exciting journey.
I guess when you get here you tell the kids to pack for 12 or 13 days but you never know whether or not that's going to be a reality or not.テつ So for us to be in this position, we're proud and certainly glad to be playing more baseball last week, and today being our last practice of the year and then playing a few more games.
So certainly glad to be here and playing against a very good opponent.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Coach O'Connor.
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ First, I'd like to congratulate Tim and his team and for being here.テつ We're very, very proud to be here also.テつ As I spoke up here last Friday in the opening press conference, I talked about how difficult we as coaches know how hard it is to first get here to Omaha.テつ And then how hard it is to advance.
So on behalf of our team, I can tell you we're very humbled by being here and being in this championship series.テつ Obviously a great opponent that's very, very talented and it's been a long season for us.テつ It's been a great season to start the year out as the number one team in the country and I'm so proud of this team how they've handled the expectations throughout the year and played good, consistent baseball, and that's all great, but when you get to Omaha, things change and it becomes even more difficult because there's eight teams that have all earned the right to be here to play for a national championship, and I'm just really proud of our club in the three ballgames we've played, we played really good, consistent baseball and that's the kind of baseball it's going to take to win the next series.
So it should be a lot of fun.テつ Two great teams.テつ I think really two great stories of both of the programs, and we're fortunate and proud and very humbled to be here today.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions?

Q.テつ For Mike, Nathan, Vince and Dansby, as fans of the game, talk about your opponent.テつ What do you admire.テつ We can go with Virginia first.テつ Nathan and Mike, what do you admire the most about Vanderbilt, you follow college baseball throughout the year, the bracket here, what do you like about the Commodores and vice versa, what do you like about Virginia?
NATHAN KIRBY:テつ I always thought they had pretty cool colors, first of all.テつ (Laughter) but they seemed to be a complete team.テつ Have a lot of great arms.テつ I think they do a good job all around.
They've got some pretty opposing hitters up there with some pretty good numbers, and I think they're a pretty good complete team.
MIKE PAPI:テつ When I look at Vanderbilt, I kind of see a little bit of ourselves in them.テつ Their pitching staff, their bullpen, they have a lot of great arms, like Kirby said, coming out of the bullpen.テつ And also their offense has been very consistent this year and they're very good at executing on offense, and I think that's what we try to do.
VINCE CONDE:テつ Yeah, I think going off Mike, I think we're pretty similar from 1 to 9 I think we're pretty deep in our lineup and then our starting pitching, our bullpen, both, very good.
And we rely on each other.テつ So I think in that sense we're very similar and two very strong teams.
DANSBY SWANSON:テつ Virginia, a lot of respect for those guys.テつ They've played some tough games and just battled through and grinded them out and like I said they have a really deep pitching staff and it will be a fun series to watch.

Q.テつ Mike, could you talk a little bit about your background at first base.テつ Obviously you played it this year, but had you played it much previously, and talk about the catch yesterday?
MIKE PAPI:テつ I mean, I like to think of myself as a pretty versatile player.テつ And I know Coach O'Connor has a lot of trust in me wherever he decides to put me on the field, either in the outfield or at first base.
And I'm just going out there every day trying to do the best I can for the guys next to me and play for those guys and play for the name on my chest instead of the name on our backs.
And I pride myself on defense and so does our team and pitching and defense is what we've prided ourselves on all year.テつ And it's definitely what's got us to this point.テつ And for making big plays in the field I think that goes to show for all of our team and all of our defense this year is making the big plays and kind of changing the momentum in the game towards our favor and just playing solid D.

Q.テつ Nathan, from where you came from, from last year, what does it mean to start Game 1 of the College World Series Finals?
NATHAN KIRBY:テつ It's quite an honor.テつ Last year, there was a lot of ups and downs.テつ More downs than ups.テつ But last year is behind me.テつ To be out here this year with this team and how well we've played, it's great.テつ I've got butterflies just sitting up here thinking about being out there.テつ But I think it's going to be a lot of fun.

Q.テつ Do you guys feel Brian's ties to this area, coach's ties to this area when you're here?テつ Do you feel the community maybe embrace you a little more just because of who your coach is?テつ Just talk about any examples of noticing just his hometown here?
MIKE PAPI:テつ I think we're extremely fortunate to have a guy like Coach O'Connor as our head coach and be so familiar with this area because with Omaha comes a lot of distractions, and he does a great job with us in letting us know how to keep our focus on the baseball and not to worry about all the outside things that are happening and just to play the Virginia way that we've been playing all season.テつ And I know he has a lot of pride and he loves this town, and it's where he comes from.テつ I mean, you see him out there on the statue and those guys showing all the compassion they have for this game and this place and you see the home to Omaha and it's what every DivisionI team dreams of coming here, and I think Coach O'Connor is extremely proud of us as a team overall and that we're extremely happy to be here.
NATHAN KIRBY:テつ Like Mike said, he's been here before.テつ He knows how to handle the team.テつ He keeps us calm.テつ There's a lot of stuff going on.
I've never been a part of something this big, and he's kept our focus between the lines.テつ And I think I'm really proud to play for him.テつ He's probably the best coach I've ever played for, and I think we're just all excited to be here.

Q.テつ Vince and Dansby, Tyler Campbell obviously has been thrust into kind of an unexpected role these last two games.テつ Talk about what you've gotten out of him and how you've seen him respond to this unexpectedness?
DANSBY SWANSON:テつ Tyler is a phenomenal teammate and guy.テつ Every day he's come to work, and Coach always reminds us that at some point in the season somebody that hasn't necessarily played as much as they would have liked would get a chance to make a difference.テつ He took that to heart and you could tell by his preparation every day and the way he's come out there and just had full confidence in him.
Every day he's a top‑notch player when we practice and when we scrimmage and when he's gotten a chance in the games and I have total faith in that guy and he's responded well.テつ So finally the College World Series.
VINCE CONDE:テつ TC, Tyler, great guy.テつ When he's on the field, he just always hustles even when he knows he's not playing, trying to get every ball in practice.テつ When Corb came up to us and asked us who deserves a role at third base, our leadership group came up together and said Tyler Campbell deserves it just because of the way he practices and the way he's been all year.テつ And we trusted him and we knew he could do it.
It shows these last two games what he's done and how big he's been for us so far.

Q.テつ Vince and Dansby, you probably haven't gotten into your scouting reports much yet but describe the challenge ahead with Virginia starters and their bullpen and starting with Kirby on Monday night?
VINCE CONDE:テつ Like you said, we haven't really gotten into that.テつ We've seen them here and there with these College World Series games and playoff games.
And like I said they're a great pitching staff, great hitting team, too.テつ So just going to be another good challenge.テつ And we just gotta take it pitch by pitch like any team has to and whatever they throw at us we'll just be ready for it and hopefully it's going to be a great series.
DANSBY SWANSON:テつ Like Vince said, haven't really gotten into it.テつ Just trying to let everything sink in from last night.テつ They have a great pitching staff and great defense.テつ They don't give you much.
Just gotta come and play and put together quality ABs and grind each inning out.

Q.テつ Mike, you talked a minute ago about the Virginia way.テつ Could you elaborate on what is the Virginia way and maybe Dansby what's the Vanderbilt way?
MIKE PAPI:テつ Like I said a little bit earlier, for us it's all about pitching and defense.テつ It's what we've prided ourselves on all season.テつ And I feel like it's been a huge thing for us that has gotten us to this point.
And the Virginia way is exactly that.テつ And if we could play solid defense behind our pitchers and have our pitchers be confident and be able to attack hitters and put the opposing offense on their heels and them in return trusting the defense behind them to make the plays.テつ So I think that's what's been a huge thing for us this year and being successful.
DANSBY SWANSON:テつ The Vanderbilt way.テつ First off, it's a brotherhood.テつ It's a family.テつ It's faith in one another.テつ It's loving the guy to your left, right, no matter what.
And on the field it's trying to be the best at everything.テつ Coming every day to work to get better, good pitching, good defense, good hitting, timely hitting.テつ It's the whole package.テつ And we pride ourselves on loving each other and always being there and just creating that type of family atmosphere.

Q.テつ Nathan, a lot of times the pitching staff is basically just a group of individuals.テつ How would you describe‑‑ give us an insight on how you feed off of each other, help each other, maybe any specific examples of how the other guys on the staff have helped you, whether it's starters or relievers, just kind of the unity you guys have and how important that is?
NATHAN KIRBY:テつ I think, first of all, any one of us could be out there in Game 1.テつ We have a lot of trust in one another, especially within the back half of the game, our relievers with Artie and Whit and Nick, they've all done a great job of coming out, no matter what situation they're in, they've done a great job of trading runners, giving up the run that we've already given up basically on the base.
I think we're basically a big family.テつ We're always joking around even when we're down.テつ I think that's what we need in the dugout sometimes.テつ A lot of the times there's a lot of pressure on the offense and defense, and I think the pitching staff needs to be there to pick everyone up, and I think we've done a great job of that this year.

Q.テつ To the hitters on both sides, teams that score five runs in this park usually win.テつ Is there any conscious effort on your part to say, hey, if we get to five here we've got a pretty good chance?
DANSBY SWANSON:テつ No, not necessarily.テつ I didn't even know that was a stat.テつ But just trying to win each inning, trying to back up our pitching and defense and just give ourselves the best opportunity to win by trying to score as much as we can, but there's no set amount of runs to get, because you can win with one, you can win with two, you can win with 40.
So just trying on your best each inning to get some runs and make it easier on our pitching staff.
MIKE PAPI:テつ I think what you're getting at is it's not a very easy ballpark to hit in.テつ So a lot of the tournament has been a lot about pitching.テつ And I think if one of the offenses does put a lot more production together, then they do have a higher percentage to possibly win.テつ So I do kind of agree with you there that is the more offense that you can get in this ballpark the better because you know that both these teams, us and Vanderbilt, both have extremely good pitching, and it's shut‑down pitching at that.
And whoever scores the most runs is going to win the game.テつ But I mean whatever team's fortunate enough to get enough quality ABs to push across a couple of runs in and then have the faith and the trust in the pitching staff to get the job done.
NATHAN KIRBY:テつ That's how it is.テつ You never know how much you're going to score.テつ And you're just trying to win a frame, frame by frame, and hopefully at the end of the game, you're up; you never know what can happen.テつ It's a baseball game.
Like Mike said, just trying to put some quality at‑bats and have faith in the guy in front of you and after you to do their job, too.テつ So we can score more runs to win ballgames.

Q.テつ Mike and Nathan and then Vanderbilt guys, coach alluded to the expectations this team had in the preseason.テつ Now that you're here, could you reflect how he's helped you guys manage them through this year.テつ And for the Vanderbilt guys, the same thing, just here more recently with losing your third baseman, can you reflect on how coach has helped you sort of get through this and get to where you wanted to be here in this tournament?
MIKE PAPI:テつ I think it's every team's goal to make it to the College World Series finals.テつ But our coach kind of instilled in us a game‑by‑game mentality.テつ And you can't really think about making it all the way to the finals on the first game of the series, first game of the season, pardon, and having that game‑by‑game mentality and coming to the field, giving 110% every day and having the confidence that the coach has in us in giving us the comfort in allowing us just to relax and go out and play I think has led us all the way here.
NATHAN KIRBY:テつ Like Mike said, expectations don't have anything to do with the results between the white lines.テつ I think the coach's expectations of throughout the whole year have been higher for us than anyone outside the baseball stadium.テつ But I think by them going and pushing us, I think we can kind of break down the barrier of anything outside the white lines, because we've gone out and we've played our way all year and we're here and that's all that matters.
DANSBY SWANSON:テつ Corby has always held us to a high standard.テつ And our standards are live in this moment and we're about getting better each day, not what's behind you, what's ahead of you.
Each day is the most important day of the year.テつ And that's the mentality we like to bring.
VINCE CONDE:テつ Like Dansby said, each moment is the most important right there.テつ And you don't want to get ahead of yourselves thinking tomorrow or anything because right now is the most important moment and when we get out of here and practice as a team that's what we have to worry about and trying to get better there so we can be ready for tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions for the coaches.

Q.テつ Brian, did you have a moment at all yesterday where you just kind of had a thing of reflection thinking I'm coaching in a national championship in Omaha Nebraska just across the river where you grew up?
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ I can tell you that certainly there was a moment of reflection.テつ You got back to the hotel with my wife and three children and got a chance for the first time to really decompress a little bit and give them a big hug and when you're a coach, your family endures a lot through a season, through a career and to be able to share that with my wife and children is really, really special.
I'll tell you this, it doesn't mean any more to me than it does Coach Corbin or any of our players on either one of our teams.
A lot is to be made that I'm from here but it's about these kids' experience.テつ The only difference between me and those young men is my birth record, it says Omaha Nebraska, that's it.
And it's about their experience and their team, that's the way that I'd like to keep it.

Q.テつ Either coach, how much do you run into each other in recruiting, and how similar are the programs in terms of the major conferences, academics, et cetera?
COACH CORBIN:テつ Well, I think the programs have been built along the same lines, to be honest with you.テつ It's a very similar timeline to the time that Brian became a head coach and I became a head coach.
We both had great mentors.テつ We took academic institutions, our place of teaching and coaching, and we both have done our best to maintain high academic standards while trying to reach the pinnacle of baseball.
So I think we're built along the same lines.テつ Our teams, at least from afar, and I think the kids said it best, when you're immersed in this tournament it's tough to look across the street at the other teams playing until you finally get to that moment.テつ But watching him and his group do what they've done this year is a very difficult thing.
We've tried to do that.テつ And we weren't very good at it.テつ Last year we were perfect for a long period of time and then at the end of the year we faltered.テつ They've done it the entire year, win 52 games while being that team means that they've had a lot of connectivity.テつ They've played very consistent, and they have stayed in the moment.
But I would say that the teams are very similar and the programs are a lot alike in a lot of different ways.テつ We run into them sometimes in recruiting, and I would say we go after very similar kids knowing their staff and knowing Brian for as long as I have, I think there's some similarities and philosophies about kids and athletes and kids who know how to play the game.
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ I'd say there's a lot of mutual respect between both coaching staffs and as Tim said it perfectly, the timeline is very, very similar.
I love coaching at a great academic institution, the young men that we're responsible for I believe are at both of our universities for more than just great baseball and more than just winning championships.テつ They're there to get an unbelievable education at both schools.テつ They're there to learn to grow up and become men and become the best baseball players that they can be.
So I think there's a lot of similarities, wouldn't you know it, that both of us are here in the finals for the first time ever and I think it really speaks to the fact that you can have a top‑notch baseball program and not have to sacrifice anything.テつ And I know Tim's proud of the guys that he coaches and I am, too, because I know what they stand for and we're at a special place.

Q.テつ Brian, if you could just indulge another question about your background.テつ I mean, just growing up, how much did this event mean to you as a kid growing up and hanging around it, and I'm sure you did a lot of things here before you were playing and coaching in it?
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ I think it means to me like it does a lot of these young kids that are out in the stands.テつ You grew up in this area.テつ The College World Series is your Major League Baseball.テつ We grew up here, we didn't go to Major League Baseball games we went to College World Series games.
You grow up coming to the stadium at that time it was Rosenblatt and idolizing those players and coaches that wore those uniforms, and you grow up around this thing, it certainly makes it very, very special and you know the history behind it, all the great players, all the great coaches, all the great teams, how this World Series has been built year after year and it's gotten better and better and how this city of Omaha has wrapped their arms around it and today in 2014 it makes it a great experience for our teams that come here.
So Vanderbilt, Virginia, they're making memories for all those young kids in that stadium looking up to the players that wear that uniform.テつ And I think the onus is on us as teams that come here to Omaha that are young men that play the game the right way and respect the game because they're looked up to by all those young people that follow the College World Series.

Q.テつ You had mentioned a little bit about mentoring student‑athletes in the classroom community and then the playing field.テつ For both of you, want to reflect, Brian, for you, playing in the World Series here, Jim Henry, your head coach, Todd Wenberg, your pitching coach, and getting mentoring from Paul Mainieri at Notre Dame; and Coach Corbin, getting mentoring from Jack Leggett at Clemson, talk about those guys and some things you've carried on learning from them that you now work with your coaching staff to educate your kids as they carry on?
COACH CORBIN:テつ I think first off, I know Brian gets uncomfortable when he's asked these questions about Omaha and the statue and so on.テつ It's the first question I asked him when I saw him.テつ (Laughter).テつ But me being a College World Series nerd myself, I mean going back to Coach Winkin in Maine, 1984 ‑‑ I'm looking at Augie last night and I'm thinking I remember those celebratory moments he had with Eddie Delzer with Cal State Fullerton and his moment in 1991 when they beat Clemson, they beat Long Beach State and had to play Wichita State.
And I got my kids out in front of the monument when we first came from the airport, we went right there and I said that's Coach O'Connor from Virginia.テつ They said no, it isn't.テつ I said, yes, that guy right there, that's him.テつ It's neat to be part of it.
It's neat the way this tournament is set up.テつ It's in Omaha and Wolfeboro, New Hampshire tomorrow, because we're home team.テつ So we'll utilize the 400 people that live in my small town and we'll play there‑‑ no statue, though.
But, no, this is just nice to take in.テつ I think as you mentioned Howard and I got off the subject, I just think mentoring kids, we cheat because we get good kids because of the university system, and that's a nice thing.
We're both fortunate we can be in that environment right there because outside of a mistake here and there, you don't sleep with one eye open.テつ And you basically know what your kids are doing.
But I think we're put in this position to be parents of other people's kids for a certain amount of time, and kids make mistakes and you are there to stand them back up again, wipe them off and get them back out there again, and that's all part of parenting and coaching.
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ Well, I think we have an enormous responsibility in this thing.テつ Like Tim said, we're fortunate to get great players, great athletes, great students, great people, and our responsibilities as a head coach are enormous at what I believe is the most important time in a young person's life and the ages between 18 and 22 years.
I was fortunate in playing for a man, Jim Henry, which was a huge mentor in my life.テつ He's the reason I got into coaching.テつ Jim made such a profound impact on my life that I said I want to do what that guy does.テつ He made such an impact on me and my teammates.
So certainly in the college playing days the impact he had and I'll always be fond of my time with Coach Mainieri at Notre Dame.テつ I learned how to run a college baseball program from somebody who I believe is the best out there and does it the right way.
And so a lot of the things that certainly we do at the University of Virginia are things that have come from my playing days for Jim and Todd Wenberg and Jack Dom and also through my time with Coach Mainieri.
So I've been very, very fortunate to have great mentors, and now it's our responsibility as head coaches and assistant coaches to mentor these young people at this crucial time that we have them.

Q.テつ Brian, you kind of inherited a risky situation when you took over Virginia's program, and, Tim, when you took over the job at Vanderbilt, Tennessee had a role.テつ But can you talk about the challenges, the path you've gone over the last decade, how you've gotten to this point?
COACH CORBIN:テつ Well, I think the challenges are‑‑ I guess I didn't see them as challenges because I was a young coach that was just immersing himself in the situation.
I was personally handed off a very nice stadium by Roy Mewbourne who worked years at Vanderbilt and hustled around and probably didn't have the resources that he deserved in order to get a program going.テつ So I was the recipient of a new stadium and an opportunity.
And it became a lifestyle.テつ It was just one in which you knew nothing but trying to be on the field, trying to recruit, just trying to build a program.テつ Certainly had visions of this some day, but they were so far distant at certain times.
I can remember the first game we played East Tennessee State, and it was raining, 40 degrees, no one up in the stands.
My wife got there and she said, I thought the game started at 4:00.テつ I said it does.テつ She said there's no one here.テつ I said that's right, there's no one here.テつ She goes you want to go back to Clemson?テつ She was joking, but it was just different.
And in time we gained resources.テつ We started winning a little bit, had a little bit of success, and now here we are in this environment, which is very rewarding for the kids and the school.
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ Well, again, I think the similarities are so close.テつ When I was fortunate enough to be named the head coach at Virginia 11 years ago, I, like Tim, inherited a brand new $5million stadium that had been built a year before Coach Womack had done a great job with the program for a long time.テつ But I don't believe he was given the same resources that I was given when we took over the program.
But I can tell you 11 years ago when I met with our athletic director, Craig Littlepage and decided to take this job, he and the university were 100% committed to having a successful baseball program and going to commit the resources and the support that it took to be successful.
Now, we did walk into a pretty good situation.テつ Not only was it a new stadium, our left side of the infield was Mark Reynolds and Ryan Zimmerman.テつ So everybody wants to talk about the turnaround that was done in Virginia baseball, but we're pretty fortunate to have two big leaguers on the left side of our infielder.テつ I can tell you I watched the first week of practice and I had my hand over my mouth, I couldn't believe how talented those two guys were.テつ And there was another big leaguer named Joe Koshansky playing first base for us that made the Major League.
So there was a group of players there when we arrived that were hungry.テつ They were eager, they were talented, they wanted to win and we were fortunate to have success because of the university's commitment and the commitment to the young people that play for us, we've been able to keep this thing rolling like Vanderbilt has and it's been a lot of fun.

Q.テつ Coach Corbin, you alluded earlier to last season and the success that you had all season long with really an older team and then you come back this year and you lose all those guys and you have a young club and here you are.テつ Is it different when you've got the younger guys maybe don't have to deal with all the draft stuff.テつ In some ways is it easier to see what Coach O'Connor has done here with his older team?テつ I'm sure you can probably identify with some of those challenges.
COACH CORBIN:テつ You certainly can, I think there's some credence to being young and naive not knowing what's going on around you.テつ This season, from the beginning to the middle part, it's certainly a progression.テつ There's maturity issues you work through, and I'm not talking about issues, large issues, I'm just talking about baseball issues, social issues, school issues, things that you have to work through for young kids who are 18 and 19 years old.
But as the season has progressed, we've come across experiences that have enabled us and moved us forward and we've gained confidence through it.テつ Last year it was like flying a plane that was on autopilot and you'd come to the ballpark and your sons who are now 21 and 22 years old have everything in order for you.
And that was in a lot of ways that's fulfilling because you know that they've taken ownership of the program and they've moved forward with it.テつ So the dad now stops parenting and the older sons in the family start manipulating the family.
And that was great.テつ We just ran out of gas at the wrong time.テつ This team has gained energy as the season progressed, and so it's two completely different units, which is great, because they're always different.テつ And we find ourselves in a spot that we may have should have been in last year, but not that either team didn't earn their way here.テつ We've just done it in a different way.

Q.テつ Both coaches, turn back the clock a little bit when you were hired at each institution, and how did you change the thought process of losing, because each school lost a lot of games for many, many years and you obviously turned it around very quickly, how did you get recruits?テつ How did you get more crowds in there and maybe you might have a favorite story that as far as turning it all around?
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ Well, that's a loaded question.テつ We could probably talk about that for a while.テつ But I'll do my best.テつ I don't think that‑‑ I wouldn't say that it was a losing program.テつ When I looked at the University of Virginia, the season that they had before I became the coach there, they weren't too far off, just quite frankly a few games from being an NCAA Regional team.テつ But I did see they had lost 13 games by one run.
Simply, I felt that the majority of the team was back in my first year.テつ I felt if we could turn around half of those games, we're an NCAA tournament team.テつ A lot of that has to do with your closer.テつ One of the best decisions I ever made my first year was to make a young left freshman left‑handed pitcher by the name of Casey Lambert our closer, and he went on to have a fantastic career with us.
I think talking about fan support and recruiting and winning and all those things, I think they're all connected.テつ If you have success in the field, the fans will come.テつ Now we're drawing over 125,000 fans a year.テつ Recruits want to play in a program where they have fan support and there's player development where players can move on and progress to the Major Leagues.
So I think it's certainly winning and the fans come, you win, you show player development, the fans come, the recruits want to be part of it because they want to be in a successful program.テつ They want to win.テつ They want to have support and they want to win championships and hopefully some day get on to the Big Leagues.
So I think it's not easy.テつ There's a lot of work that went into it.テつ There was a lot of late hours by a lot of people.テつ I'll tell you my two assistant coaches Kevin McMullan and Karl Kuhn are as good as they get, and the fact that they've remained loyal to this baseball program for 11 years is pretty remarkable and I would say that has more to do with our sustained success over the years than anything.
COACH CORBIN:テつ Like Brian, we've been very fortunate to have good coaches at Vanderbilt.テつ Eric Bakich was a very hungry energetic recruiter and Derek Johnson was a phenomenal pitching coach.テつ Josh Holliday, a head coach at Oklahoma State, he's cut along the same path.
Those are special, special people.テつ And now to have two assistants and Travis Jewett and Scott Brown, very, very fortunate.
I think the part spent a lot of time when we first got there was trying to develop a culture and more trying to get 18, 19‑year‑old kids to learn how to treat other people and develop a mentality of serving and doing things for others to try to develop that team concept that's so important in moving forward, that first year that I can remember the first meeting, it was more along the lines of getting guys to sit straight up in their chair, how they were going to wear their hair, how they were going to attend every class.
Class wasn't something we were going to check on, it was just an expectation, that's why you were there.
How to get up in the morning and just make your bed and brush your teeth, those are small things, but not every 18, 19‑year‑old male does that.テつ And I just think it's changing habits and then those habits become life changing, and the next thing you know they become team changing.
Our moment for us was the first year, and we were going into the last series of the year.テつ We hadn't been to the SEC tournament in 12 years.テつ And we talked about it at the beginning of the year of winning the last game against Tennessee where we had to sweep Tennessee three times in order to go to the SEC tournament that year.
And they just needed to win one game to go to the tournament.テつ We won Friday night.テつ We won Saturday.テつ And we were losing by two runs in the bottom of the 9th on Sunday.テつ And this kid named Worth Scott, who was hitting .176 at the time, who I was considering pinch‑hitting for with a runner on first base, we got the lead down to one run, comes up and off of Luke Hochevar hits a ball over the right field fence to win the game and they celebrated at home plate like we had talked about.
And I do think that that was the kickoff moment.テつ It got our program going.テつ It was the one moment that I think everyone who was tied with Vanderbilt baseball, not Nashville's, but Vanderbilt baseball, knew that, okay, these guys can do something.テつ It will move forward.テつ And it did.テつ And we were fortunate enough to play Brian in a regional the next year, first time since 1970 to play in an NCAA regional.テつ So just small moments that kept building on each other.

Q.テつ Scoring five runs in this park is a tall order, but it's history both in the series and for the team that plays here during the regular season.テつ This has kind of become the magic number here.テつ As coaches, do you even think about that, if we can get to five we've got a pretty good shot?
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ I can tell you, Steve, we don't think about it.テつ Didn't even really know about a magic number.テつ We'll try to start at one and see how we can build from there.
But I just don't think you can think that way from a team standpoint.テつ As the players said up here so well, you just take it inning by inning and just do the best you can.
I don't think that there can be a magic number.テつ It might only be two that you need to win a ballgame.テつ We'll see.
COACH CORBIN:テつ I just think that like last night's game, for instance, we won a one‑run game 4‑3, but that game certainly could have been 7‑6, 8‑7.テつ There were so many pivotal plays with people on base.テつ I think it comes down to at this time pitching at the college level is at a premium, and with such great arms, we talk about the wind currents.テつ We talk about the fences.テつ We talk about the bats.
How about these arms that people are throwing, that Virginia has, that Vanderbilt has, that Texas has?テつ And I think that has a lot to do with it.テつ And then the defense played behind those arms is so good, because the concentration level of college programs does exist in pitching and defense.テつ It does.テつ It's just that's natural right now until maybe something changes.
But I think that's where it's at.テつ And I think that's why that number you talk about, which I haven't thought about either, really exists.
But the games could change.テつ We certainly were in 1:00last night that could have been a whole lot different.

Q.テつ Could you talk about, now that you're here at the national championship series, was it more difficult than you thought to get here?テつ Did the journey unfold as you expected?テつ And if could you address your starting pitching plans as far as you know in two or three games?
COACH O'CONNOR: テつI'll say our starting pitching plans are Nathan Kirby's going to start Game 1.テつ We really haven't talked about Game 2.テつ I would think Brandon Waddell.テつ But we really haven't discussed it yet.テつ I don't know about Game 3.
The journey here is it's not easy.テつ I don't think that you can script it out.テつ We've certainly had years that we felt like we've had really great ball clubs and haven't been able to get here and you just can't explain that sometimes.
Sometimes you just don't get that hit, you don't make that pitch, that's how hard it is to be here.テつ There is so many great programs in this country that care about their baseball program.
I mean, you have two schools sitting here that 11, 12 years ago would not have been in this conversation about getting to Omaha.テつ And now Vanderbilt and Virginia are in the conversation every year potentially to get here.テつ So our journey was fun, it was great.テつ We've got a special group of guys that you are able to as a coach to back off a little bit and let them play because of the veteran leadership we do have.
And it's been over the last four or five weeks it's been a very loose and aggressive bunch that's had a lot of fun together and has been able to manage themselves.テつ Certainly we were in a very defining moment in the Super Regional, after we had dropped Game 1, Maryland beat Nathan Kirby, and here you are at home, a national seed, everybody believes that you should advance and we have a group of guys that rises up and finds a way to win the next two ballgames and puts us here.
Very easily could have lost one of those games, not have a bounce go our way, and we wouldn't be sitting here at this table right now.
COACH CORBIN:テつ Well, I think to get to this point, you do have to have a certain amount of luck, your team has to be playing well.テつ You have to have some connectivity, and it has to sometimes be the fit of the opponent you're playing as well and where you're playing for that matter.
We were at home.テつ We were fortunate to have a regional.テつ We played a very difficult Oregon team to get through that one.テつ And a walk‑off home run by Stanford allowed us to play at home against Stanford.テつ And that was probably fortunate for us to be back in Nashville.
We had to go three games with them which was a very offensive well pitched team and then to get here it's almost overwhelming to look at everyone that you would have to get through in order to get to this point right now, so it's just more of the same.テつ You just incrementally have to continue to get better each time and you can't look at the whole.テつ To me it's overwhelming.
But now that we're here, we just have to readjust our thoughts on our pitching.テつ I think Tyler Beede and Walker Buehler will pitch Game 1.テつ We haven't had time, really, to process last night our biggest decision was what kind of pizza to order for the team.
So once we went to bed and woke up and came here, we'll get together as a team and talk about what we're going to do as we move forward.

Q.テつ Coach O'Connor, I was hoping you could give us a little more insight in your two assistant coaches.テつ You mentioned them earlier.テつ You also mentioned Jim Henry, and of course he was a big bridge to you going to Notre Dame.テつ Maybe just what you saw in the two of them back when you hired them, what was the key factor?テつ I know Coach McMullan had been at ECU with Keith LeClair, and I believe Coach Kuhn had a connection to a former Creighton basketball player you knew or something like that.テつ Obviously they're not yes‑men for you.テつ I'm guessing they've checked you at times.テつ And maybe give us an insight into that.
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ First, I'd say about Kevin McMullan and Karl Kuhn, they're really talented.テつ I've certainly talked about their loyalty, but they're very, very good at what they do.テつ Both of them are excellent recruiters, they're both tireless workers and they both really know the game of baseball.
And so I knew Kevin McMullan back from when I was an assistant at Notre Dame and he was an assistant at St. Johns when I hired him to Virginia at that time he was working with the Atlanta Braves.
He had been with them for a year.テつ He was a minor league catching coordinator, was an A ball coach in the Braves organization.テつ I had actually known Coach Kuhn, just the recruiting trails when I was at Notre Dame.テつ Him and I, our paths crossed not necessarily recruiting against each other but being at the same events, getting to know each other, always had respect for how hard he worked and when I took the job at Virginia, I knew that it was going to be, it was going to take three guys together that were going to need to really, really work hard and spend a lot of time together.テつ Actually the three of us lived together our first couple of months there in a one bedroom studio apartment and it was the best thing that happened to us.
For two months, we got to spend 24 hours a day together in the office late at night, out on the road recruiting, and really got to learn and understand about each other.
So very, very fortunate that those two men are with us and they do a fantastic job, not only in recruiting but also in player development.

Q.テつ Brian, earlier your players mentioned how your experiences here have kind of helped them to deal with the hoopla of this event.テつ Have you changed anything about how you approach this event just dealing with the natural distractions of coming home where all your family is?
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ I have.テつ I can tell you personally I have.テつ I haven't left my hotel room other than to go to dinner.テつ My family has learned over the years to respect the job that I have to do, and I'm grateful that they handle it that way.
Certainly having coached in this thing a handful of times and having played in it, it's changed over the years.テつ It changes every year.テつ I don't think that it's rocket science, really.テつ I think it's a matter of just keeping your group together.
You've got to let them go out and experience everything a little bit.テつ But you can't try to do everything.テつ And making sure that they stay together is the most important thing; that you keep your group‑‑ it's about team.テつ That's what it's been about all year, and we do everything centered around what is best for the group and trying to keep them all connected and together for this run.

Q.テつ Brian, Corbin talked about the Werth Scott home run against Tennessee kind of being the tide turner for this program.テつ What's the one moment in your program that you look back say, okay, that might have been the play that got this all going for us?
COACH O'CONNOR:テつ I'd say that there were really the one first defining weekend series was our first year there at Virginia and we went down to Georgia Tech for the opening ACC weekend, and I don't think Virginia had ever beaten Georgia Tech in a series.テつ And we found a way to sweep them for the first time in their own ballpark, and I think it really opened the players' eyes to understand that this can really happen, that the University of Virginia, if we put in the hard work and the dedication, the commitment to each other and to do what it takes, we can be successful at the highest level of baseball, and as it turned out we went on a heck of a run that year and lost the regular season title by half a game and so kind of came out of nowhere.テつ But the talent was there.テつ It was just a matter of pushing them in the right direction and seeing them getting them to understand what it takes to be successful.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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