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May 19, 2015
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
Virginia Â– 11
Georgia Tech - 0
HEAD COACH BRIAN O'CONNOR:Â We're very, very proud.Â It's been certainly noted that the situation that we were in starting a couple of weeks ago that this team had to earn the right to be here in Durham this week.Â And we just earned that right this past weekend.Â We feel great about being here.Â And now we had to today come out and earn the right to be in the next step of this championship and be in the pool play.Â
So we're excited, and certainly our effort was driven by Josh Sporz, he made his third start of the year.Â He's been our closer all year, somebody that is as talented as he is and started our rotation all year last year in his second year for us.
And then the coach goes to him before the season and says that the best thing for this team is for him to pitch at the end of the ballgame for us.Â And he says, coach, whatever we need to do to win.Â He's been very, very unselfish.Â It's amazing when you take that approach in this game how the game comes back and rewards you.
Based on what we did last weekend the North Carolina it made sense to start Josh today.Â And we had a ton of confidence in him.Â It seems like every time that we've given this guy the ball in a big situation in his career he's come through.Â
One really rings through for me is last year in Game 3 of the Super Regional against Maryland, with everything on the line, the guy goes out and throws a terrific ballgame and pitches us to Omaha.
I'm so proud of him, it doesn't surprise me that he went out and pitched well.Â And certainly our offense effort today was very, very good.Â It felt like the last five or six ballgames we've really been consistent offensively.Â And have a very, very good lineup, one through nine.Â And we're excited that we have the opportunity to play again tomorrow.Â
Q.Â Josh, can you talk about what was working so well for you?
JOSH SPORZ:Â First off, it helped that we had a big lead.Â We made it so that I could pitch efficiently.Â I didn't have to pitch perfect pitches every time.Â I tried to get done as fast as possible and let the offense keep going.
Q.Â Were you aware of, one, the perfect game, and two, the fact that there is a ten‑run rule?
JOSH SPORZ:Â I was pretty aware of the perfect game.Â I was pretty upset when the ball was hit.Â I didn't think it was gone, but I knew the perfect game was over, but I had no idea there was a runner on, so I was walking off.Â
Q.Â What was your mindset going into that second inning?
JOSH SPORZ:Â Just tried to get out of it as efficiently as possible.Â I wasn't trying to do anything special.Â
MATT THAISS:Â I went over to him and sat next to him and didn't think anything of it, but I stayed far away the rest of the game.Â
Q.Â Josh, how difficult is it to go (INAUDIBLE)?
JOSH SPORZ:Â It's the longevity, going from one inning to seven innings, it's tough.Â I had to try to think about pitching as efficiently as possible.Â
Q.Â Your numbers were 11 to 21 the last six games.Â You're obviously a big part of that production.Â What's been the difference for you being so efficient?
DANIEL PINERO:Â I guess I'm just comfortable up there right now.Â I didn't really change anything all year, just comfortable compared to last year, when I was a little nervous times up at the plate.Â But this year I'm just going up there and I'm comfortable.Â So I guess it's paying off.Â
Q.Â Do you have a chip on your shoulder not making the All ACC Team, and coming out today and performing like you did?Â
MATT THAISS:Â I don't pay attention to those kind of things.Â It's just not me.Â I'm more focused on what we have to do here as a team, and we accomplished that today.Â That's not something I really take a look at.Â
Q.Â You guys came in red hot.Â
MATT THAISS:Â We've taken this postseason approach from the past two weeks we've had to today.Â We did a great job giving Josh an early lead, and we're ready to get out there tomorrow.Â
Q.Â Josh, since you didn't know about the runner, did you know how close you were to finishing it off?
JOSH SPORZ:Â I had no idea.Â
Q.Â When did you figure it out, and what was the reaction?
JOSH SPORZ:Â Well, when the third base coach started to congratulate me I was really confused (laughter.)Â Then I started looking around and everyone started coming out, and that's kind of when I knew.Â
Q.Â Josh, it seemed like your slider really came along as you went along through the game.Â Sort of how has that pitch developed for you, becoming a big part of your arsenal.Â
JOSH SPORZ:Â Last year I kind of struggled controlling it and this year I tried to make them hit the ball.Â I'm not trying to strike everyone out with it.Â And just keeping it down has been the biggest thing.
Q.Â Seemed pretty comfortable double or even tripling up on it?Â
JOSH SPORZ:Â I've done it most of my career here.Â You get kind of used to three or four sliders in a row.Â But the last inning, I kind of lost control of it and I just had to settle down.
Q.Â Danny, this is your first time playing this ballpark, with that leftfield course, kind of take us through that.Â Is that kind of a target for you?Â
DANIEL PINERO:Â Yeah, it's kind of cool.Â It's a cool ballpark.Â I mean I'm enjoying it.Â I don't know what to say.Â It's nice.Â
Q.Â What did you get on that home run?Â
DANIEL PINERO:Â Fastball.Â
Q.Â Did you see how close you came to hitting the board?Â
DANIEL PINERO:Â Coach told me I was pretty close, though. Â That's what I was laughing about.Â
Q.Â You had a pretty complete game from Josh today, what does that mean for your pitching staff for the rest of the week?
HEAD COACH BRIAN O'CONNOR:Â Well, we'll see how they pitch, you know (laughter.)
But I know where you're getting at.Â I think it's really important.Â We haven't touched anybody else.Â So certainly we have three guaranteed games and hopefully a fourth in front of us.Â And we're going to need some more starting pitching performances where they pitch deep in the game, as well.Â
We've pretty much gone, in the last two weeks, gone with six or seven pitchers.Â And they've done a nice job and that's because our starters have pitched deep in the ballgame.Â So certainly this is huge.Â We didn't have to touch anybody else.Â Because now this gets us back to the other three teams that we're competing with in our pool.Â And the fact that we didn't have to touch anybody else hopefully gives us a chance.Â
Q.Â Josh, you did face some adversity in the 7th.Â You didn't know that was the end of the game.Â I know you want to keep it close to zero on the board.Â Just take us through that?
JOSH SPORZ:Â I just kind of tried to slow it down, I know I was starting to get tired.Â I just had to take one pitch at a time.Â I wish I knew beforehand that was the last batter in the game, if I got out of that.Â I just tried to slow it down and make each pitch as good as possible.
Q.Â Baseball is a game you play every day.Â You played seven games in nine days.Â Do you think that had an impact that you had eight‑plus runs, six‑plus runs in your last four games.Â Playing all those games in that time, do you think that helps your offense?Â
HEAD COACH BRIAN O'CONNOR:Â Maybe.Â Certainly could.Â I do believe that you want to try to play as much as possible.Â Certainly the first month and a half of our season, our season and a lot of other college baseball teams' season, it was kind of scattered.Â I think the first four weeks of the season we didn't play a mid‑week game, we were only playing on weekends.Â So I think it's partly that.Â
But I also think that you have these rookies that have collected all these at‑bats now and they understand what it takes to be successful at this level.Â And so they're more like veteran players now, and they're more consistent than maybe they had been up until this point.Â
Q.Â You talked yesterday about how this team was kind of coming around, getting going.Â Were you a little bit curious to see if that will continue and how good does it feel that it sort of seems like you're still on that path?
HEAD COACH BRIAN O'CONNOR:Â Well, it feels great.Â I think ever since we came out of final exams against Duke two weeks ago we've been playing very, very good baseball.
I made sure that yesterday after practice that we brought the team here to the stadium because the majority of them haven't seen this stadium.Â And we walked on the warming track out there and explained the ground rules to all the players and everything.Â Just kind of got the awe factor out of it, you know.Â And knowing that we'd have the first game this morning that everything would be kind of sped up a little bit.Â We made sure we got here for a little bit yesterday.
Hopefully we can continue to play good baseball.Â Certainly our opponent tomorrow, and then the opponent on Friday and Saturday are all high quality teams.Â When you get into this final pool, anybody can win it, so certainly we're going to have to play the same level of baseball we've been playing to advance.
Q.Â You explained the ground rules, did you explain the ten‑run rule?
HEAD COACH BRIAN O'CONNOR:Â No, you learn something in coaching, that you always hold a few things back.Â Certainly I knew that there was a ten‑run rule.Â But, yeah, that's something that I just didn't think that we needed to share with them.Â If you happen to get in that situation, you deal with it, like we did.Â
Q.Â Maybe you had concern, Pavin had a little fatigue in the middle of the season, now it seems like he's seeing the ball really well.Â How important is that development of him here?
HEAD COACH BRIAN O'CONNOR:Â Well, I think it's really important.Â Pavin Smith came to us and we knew that not only was he one of the better hitters in the state of Florida coming out of high school, that he was one of the top recruits out there, and it was because of his bat.Â And certainly he's been in the middle of that lineup for us for the entire year, and hasn't left there.Â And he's a key guy, certainly hitting behind Matt and Kenny Towns to be able to drive in runs for us.Â
And we have the luxury of somebody like Joe McCarthy, of leaving him in the 7 hole right now, and I think the more at‑bats Joe collects the better and better he's going to be and we're able to do that because pave on is delivering.Â
Q.Â One thing you haven't mentioned is not seeing it all the time, but from the distance, it looks like this is probably the healthiest your field players have been all year long.Â Is that a factor in just why you've played so much better the last month or so?
HEAD COACH BRIAN O'CONNOR:Â I think so.Â You know, it's been certainly well documented throughout this year the injuries that this team has taken on and they've found a way to push through it.Â And now we're at the point where we're as healthy as we ever have been.Â John La Prise isn't coming back, but we're as healthy as we have been, and I think the health and then the consistency leads to the consistency that we've been able to play with.Â
So starting this season I even felt before the injuries happened, I felt that this team really had a chance to be special at this time of the year, just because I knew we'd be counting on so many first year players.Â And I knew by coming down the stretch run that they would play like veterans now.Â
Q.Â Your pitching plan for the rest of the week, do you have something set?
HEAD COACH BRIAN O'CONNOR:Â I don't.Â I really wish I did.Â Connor Jones is a candidate.Â And then we're looking at a potential other options tomorrow.Â We will decide by early this evening, but we wanted to get through this one first.Â We look at this thing as there's three ballgames you've got to win to get yourself into the position of the title.Â We're going to take a look at that and decide what we feel is best.Â
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports