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May 30, 2015

Chris Chinea

Alex Lange

Paul Mainieri

Andrew Stevenson


LSU – 2
UNCW - 0

THE MODERATOR:  We'll go with the obvious guy.  Alex, we'll ask you for a few comments about your outing, please.
ALEX LANGE:  I thought we played well tonight.  Defense did a great job, and I'm just really happy we won.
THE MODERATOR:  Andrew, three big base hits, scored that insurance run in the ninth.  Talk about your night at the plate, please.
ANDREW STEVENSON:  Just tried to do what I can to help the team.  When you've got a guy like Alex on the mound, he's going to give us our best shot to win, and it takes a few runs to get the win tonight.
THE MODERATOR:  Chris, big base hit there in the seventh.  Talk about that at‑bat, please.
CHRIS CHINEA:  When a guy like Alex Lange keeps you in the game, I mean, I was battling all day, had two Ks before that at‑bat, and he talked to me before that at‑bat and told me to stay positive, been doing it all year.  Coach Mainieri told me you're going to see a starter away, and what do you know, a starter away came, and put a good swing on it, found a hole.  But I give all credit for this game to Alex Lange.  Everyone saw what he did out there.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, a few comments, please.
PAUL MAINIERI:  I'll try to keep my comments brief.  Well, obviously Alex Lange showed why he's a first‑team all‑American, first‑team all‑SEC, freshman of the year in the SEC, should be national freshman of the year, might be national pitcher of the year, and he doesn't care at all about those kind of things.  You can see by his comment all he cares about is winning and helping his team.  He's the next in the long line of humble superstars that we've had around here, guys that just care so much about the team more than anything else.  But man, what a performance.
I couldn't help but reflect back to 2009.  I thought I was watching Anthony Ranaudo out there on the mound when he struck out 14 against Baylor in this same game, and that was the kind of performance that Alex gave us, and we needed it.  We ran up against a couple really good pitchers for them that pitched their hearts out, as well.  We had a few opportunities‑‑ I thought we hit a lot of balls hard.  I think Nolan Cain told me that the tracker that we have said that we hit 17 balls over 100 miles an hour tonight, so we were hitting a lot of balls hard, but a lot of them were right at them or they made nice defensive plays.  A right fielder made a tremendous play on a ball early in the game.  So it was a little bit frustrating for us.
But then they had some opportunities against Alex, and he pitched out of it, as well.  It was a great ballgame, I thought, by two teams that were playing their hearts out, and we were fortunate enough to win at the end.

Q.  Alex, what was the feeling out there?  Every pitch is working?  What are you feeling out on the mound?
ALEX LANGE:  Definitely every pitch wasn't working tonight.  The beginning of the game was a battle.  I felt like I grew up tonight during the game.  You know, I was missing spots at the beginning, walking guys, giving up hits, leaving balls up, but I was able to pitch out of some jams.  Defense picked me up great like they've done all year, and we were able to manage to stretch a couple runs across.  I'm just really thankful for that.
But it was a battle.  I had a lot of reflecting to do in the dugout and try to figure stuff out, but in the end I came through with it and figured it out.

Q.  Coach and Alex, what was the conversation like in the dugout as the innings progressed?  It looked like after the eighth inning he called you into the dugout and said I'm going back in.  Was there ever any thought of taking him out or pulling him after that first hit in the ninth?
PAUL MAINIERI:  I wasn't going to take him out.  Probably would have had about 12,000 people attack me in the dugout if I did.
My biggest concern with Alex is always his long‑term health, and I would never put him into a situation which we would risk that.  He's one of those kids that when you ask him a question, he tells you the truth.  You know, I thought he‑‑ I thought he was‑‑ I don't want to say making it look easy.  It wasn't easy.  But he wasn't laboring out there.
I don't know if that would have been the last batter.  He might have got one more, I'm not sure.  I had Pearson ready in case we needed him.  But I thought he was still throwing the ball well, and I think I saw a 93 up there on the scoreboard in the last inning and his curveball still had good bite.  As long as he felt strong and he wasn't laboring, I thought it was the right thing to do to leave him in there.

Q.  Alex, it looked like you were really zoned in.
ALEX LANGE:  Yeah, it started to click as the game progressed.  I started to get stronger.  My command started to get better.  My breaking ball started to get better.  I mean, obviously any competitor, any pitcher, any hitter will tell you that they don't want to come out of the game.  Being a pitcher, that's part of it.  You come out of the game, and I know Coach Mainieri would have taken me out.  He wouldn't put me at risk.  He was confident in me, and I went out there.  But he wasn't going to throw me out there if there was harm because I wanted to go back out there for the ninth against Ole Miss earlier, and he said no.  So I know he has my best interests in mind.  I'm just grateful for the opportunity to go back out there for the ninth.

Q.  Alex, the Wilmington folks were just in here and kind of talking about a lot of their strike‑outs came on pitches that weren't in the strike zone.  Is that kind of something you had on the scouting report coming in or something you saw and adjusted to as the game went on?
ALEX LANGE:  Certain hitters, you know, they'll‑‑ you can get the curveball down to their back foot.  The lefties‑‑ they had a really heavy lefty lineup, and the curveball to the back foot after setting them up with fastballs away or fastballs in, that normally works, and they were chasing them.  We just didn't need to throw the curveball in the zone.  I think the couple times I did, I think their 5 or 6 hole hitter he had a couple hits off a changeup and a curveball tonight.  He's a great hitter.  He's a great approach.  So if I get that down, maybe it's another result.  But it was working, we were getting the back foot, and Scivicque was doing an excellent job back there blocking, so I had all the confidence in the world to bounce them in there.

Q.  Andrew, when you came up after Kade's double, they ran the wheel and it looked like they were waiting for you, but how important was it to not bunt in that situation and get a pitch to hit, and then Chris, you mentioned striking out twice deep in counts.  You've been aggressive all season early in counts.  How key was that for you?
ANDREW STEVENSON:  You know, I was kind of looking in the dugout for Coach to give me a sign, and kind of just gave me the fist and said just pull one right here.  I felt like they were going to give me a pitch that I could handle to bunt and was going to take the out right there, but they ended up throwing me the fastball and I was able to put a good swing on it and shoot it to right field.
CHRIS CHINEA:  Early on in the game, I mean, the pitcher was great.  The pitcher had my number.  He was spotting up on me.  He was dotting it inside, outside, and I came up my third at‑bat and I was going to get that run in no matter what I had to do.  He threw me a slider away like I said earlier, and I put a good swing on it, and I found a hole, brought in the run.

Q.  Chris and Andrew, this is familiar territory now, two wins in your first two games of the regional.  How do you want it to be different than last year?
CHRIS CHINEA:  I mean, last year is last year.  We try not to think about that anymore.  Now we're focusing on the next game, and the next game in front of us is the winner between UNC and Tulane, and we've got to take it an inning at a time, a pitch at a time, at‑bat at a time.  We've just got to go out tomorrow and battle every single pitch.  We know we've got to play until the last out.  Once that last out is made, then we can think about the next game.
ANDREW STEVENSON:  Like Chris said, it's a new year, and we're going to take it one game at a time and just kind of take what they give us and go out and just play hard and have fun out there.

Q.  Alex, you talked about being reflective in the dugout.  Obviously you had a long time to prepare for the start.  How did you handle the delay mentally, and then coach had said he was going to ride you, you were his horse, so you knew you were going to be in for the long haul.  Mentally how do you push yourself through that grind of that game?
ALEX LANGE:  You just never know when the game was going to start, obviously, because we had the game before it, and they had to finish up.  And you've just got to stay in the zone.  I mean, you've got to stay loose in the locker room and not really tighten up and start to overthink things and just stay relaxed.  You just stay within yourself.
The locker room atmosphere was really loose and we were excited, so that gave me a lot of confidence.  I felt like we were going to get the game in, and so I was just trying to prepare every 30 minutes if there was another lightning strike, just restart, just keep preparing, keep preparing, keep preparing.

Q.  Alex, I know there was a double later in the inning, but how big was Mark's catch at the wall?  How big was that for your confidence just going forward in the inning?
ALEX LANGE:  That's huge.  That's something that I really don't want to get overlooked because that's a big time play.  If that ball falls, that inning is different, that run scores.  They put the first run up because that guy doubled later in the inning.  That's at least a double.  I'm not sure how fast the guy was, but that's huge.  That's a big‑time play, and that's something that he's done all year.  I don't want to say I'm used to it, but I'm kind of used to it because that's what they do.  Steve does the same thing.  That's what our outfield does.  We have the best outfield in the country, and it's awesome pitching with them because they're going to go make plays like that and change games.

Q.  Alex, you were going down in the count it seemed like to start the game.  Was there something with your meeting with Alan Dunn in the fourth inning, something changed or something said in that meeting that changed you for the better if anything?
ALEX LANGE:  He kind of just gave me a second out there.  We kind of talked.  Just really focusing on staying within myself, not trying to do too much, not trying to get ahead of myself, making everything happen over the rubber, and it was big.  And then Kade, of course, behind the dish was constantly talking to me throughout the game, telling me mental adjustments to make, physical adjustments to make.  Credit to those guys.  I couldn't do what I do without Coach Dunn working with me every day and Scivicque back there, the best catcher in the country.  I know we have the best players at every position, but he's really the best at what he does, and he gives me a lot of confidence throwing with him back there.

Q.  Coach and Alex, how big were two things for him getting into‑‑ I think it was the 5 pitch, eighth inning, and then the insurance run in the ninth?
PAUL MAINIERI:  Both those things were huge.  You know, he didn't have a lot of clean innings early.  He was making a lot of clutch pitches and getting out of jams.  That's why the game was so even, because their pitcher was making some big pitches getting out of jams and we had opportunities, but Alex was doing the same thing.  He'd get in a little trouble and then get out of it.  Fortunately they made some early pitch outs early in the game or his pitch count would have been even higher.  But then when he had that quick inning in the eighth, I really thought that was going to be the key inning of the game.  If I'm not mistaken it was their 2, 3 and 4 hole hitters coming up, and I was kind of holding my breath knowing that this inning was going to define the game, and boy, it was over like that.  That was huge.
And then I thought the tackle and run, I thought Jared Foster did a great job on the hit‑and‑run there with runners on first and third.  Who scored the run?

Q.  Steven.
PAUL MAINIERI:  Steven won on contact there and the first baseman couldn't make the play.  Just giving us the one extra run I thought allowed Alex to go out and attack the hitters without worrying that one pitch was going to allow them to tie up the ballgame.
ALEX LANGE:  Just like Coach said, that eighth inning was huge, just five pitches.  That gave me the confidence I knew I wasn't coming out of the game.  That insurance run, any time you can get runs, it's awesome.  I mean, I'll wait in the dugout for an hour if I can get 20 runs.  I think any pitcher is the same way.  Every insurance run just gives you confidence, and one swing of the bat is not going to change the game.  They have to score two.  That's a big‑time run by the offense.

Q.  How do you turn the page now until tomorrow?  It looks like it's going to be another long day.  Does the way you handled today give you confidence?
PAUL MAINIERI:  I was a little confused after the game because we have a midnight rule with our players, but at 1:10 in the morning I wasn't sure what to do.  What did we say, Steve, three?  We turned the clock forward three hours, so we're letting them celebrate this until 3:00 in the morning, and then they have to turn the page.  Obviously we're playing for a championship tomorrow, so we'll get to bed at some point and then we'll wake up knowing that we're playing for a championship.  I know Jared Poché is excited about that opportunity to pitch his team to a championship.  I'm sure that Steve‑o and Chris and all their teammates are going to be excited about playing tomorrow, so I don't think it'll be difficult at all.  This was an emotional game.  It was a great ballgame.  But we also know the work is not done.  We've got another one to get.

Q.  Andrew and Chris, you have a job to do at the plate, and their pitcher is doing a great job against you guys, but you're also in your dugout watching what Alex is doing.  What's the mentality as a player when you watch a pitcher that's on his game like that?  Do you try to do more in the field?  Do you try to have his back more, or is it just business as usual?
ANDREW STEVENSON:  Just try to get the man a run.  That's what we're thinking.  We were able to get him one and kind of take a keep breath and just relax and go out there and make plays behind him.
CHRIS CHINEA:  I mean, just like Steve said, scratch him a run or two.  A guy like Alex is going to get us the W.  Like he said, also just play flawless defense behind him, and with a pitcher like that, you're going to win a lot of ballgames, and if we play defense like we did tonight, we're going to be set.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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