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May 31, 2015

Dan Hartleb

Drasen Johnson

Adam Walton


Illinois – 3
Notre Dame - 0

DAN HARTLEB:  Played extremely well and it all started in the first inning.  Got in a little bit of a jam and Jason showed what he showed all year with his guts and found a way to get a strikeout with the bases loaded and only one out.  We get out of that inning, started to settle in and then pitched just a great game.  Can't say enough about what Drasen did, defensively outstanding.  I thought Adam had a great day at shortstop ‑‑ top of the order, it was a great team win and again it goes back to the pitching and what Drasen did today.

Q.  The first couple innings‑‑
DRASEN JOHNSON:  First two innings‑‑ inaudible ‑‑  infielders, keeps them in the game and stuff like that.  I think that showed today because they made a bunch of good plays.  I can't credit them enough.

Q.  The way this game played out‑‑ struggling?
DRASEN JOHNSON:  As long as I can get past the third, usually improves from there.  Just the bad pitches I made early on‑‑ got some key strikeouts when I had to to keep them from crossing home.

Q.  Kind of like that mentality, being a workhorse on this pitching staff?
DRASEN JOHNSON:  I take tried in that because everyone expects me to go out there and go seven every time, and I take pride in that.

Q.  Inaudible.
ADAM WALTON:  Last week I started off slow and I started pressing a little bit and kind of changed the way I played.  I had a good week of practice this week‑‑ confident out there, I knew I was going to be ready to go this weekend and wanted to prove to the coaching staff and the team that I was the shortstop‑‑

Q.  Inaudible.
ADAM WALTON:  Me and Coach had a little talk.  I didn't get any words in.  (Laughing) Being back at home and in front of the home fans has been great.  Like I said, I had a great week of practice and I just need a bit of confidence this weekend.

Q.  Inaudible.
ADAM WALTON:  That was the second or third time through the order, so we were able to see him a couple times.  Took a good swing at the ball‑‑ like we said earlier, when we are aggressive on the base paths like we were, good things happen.  We like putting pressure on the other team and we did that today and thankfully pushed a couple across.

Q.  Do you think it benefitted you guys by not having to play yesterday with the rainout and coming back today fresh?
ADAM WALTON:  I don't know if it benefitted us or not.  It's always nice to have a day off.  We got some good work in yesterday.  If we played yesterday, we were ready to go‑‑ I don't know if it would have made a difference playing yesterday.  Any day we'll be ready to go.

Q.  Do you expect Drasen to settle in like he did?
ADAM WALTON:  Yeah, I expected him to from the first pitch‑‑ that wasn't the case today.  Any time he's out there, we have confidence he's going to go seven or eight innings.  He pounds the strike zone and gets a lot of ground balls and contact.  It's great playing defense.  Like he said, keeps us on our toes.  Every time he's out there, we expect him to be a workhorse that he is and go at least seven.

Q.  The Notre Dame coach said that you were maybe a changed pitcher‑‑ is there truth to that?  Did you feel more confidence?
DRASEN JOHNSON:  Not really.  I wouldn't say that.  Hard to say‑‑ pitching with the lead is a lot better than being tied obviously.  Your mentality changes a little bit.  You try to attack more than you would the first through the third inning.  Put the pressure on them to string hits together and score runs.

Q.  Tyler was warming up, did you think‑‑
DRASEN JOHNSON:  No, we didn't.
We didn't even talk about that.  I'm sure he had something in mind but I was fully prepared to finish that game.

Q.  Kevin gets most of the publicity.  Do you think Drasen is comfortable or would prefer not to be in the spotlight?
DAN HARTLEB:  This team is so unselfish.  There's not one person who cares who gets the attention.  All they care about is winning and that's why we've won at a high level.  At different times during the year, you've had different guys that have gotten a lot of attention.  Drasen doesn't care.  He's a very mature individual.  He's been through the battles here.  He's been a great pitcher for us, and again, all he cares about is what happens with the team.

Q.  Two complete games‑‑
DAN HARTLEB:  We feel good going through the winner's bracket and coming out tomorrow against a team that's got to play multiple games, more games than you.  And so people are going to have to go to their bullpens a little bit more and have gone to their bullpens.  I feel good about where we're at.  We have one of the best pitchers in the country that has not thrown a pitch yet.  That's a luxury to have.

Q.  It's kind of become a typical start for him to give up some early and then not much after that.  Any idea of that or how does he handle‑‑
DAN HARTLEB:  Well, as I said, I thought we won the game‑‑ you can't tell at that time but I thought we won the game the first inning if you look back just because of his guts.
If you look at his starts, he cares so much, he's so amped up, excited to go out and pitch each and every time; that at times, he throws through his break.  He's a sinkerball, changeup type pitcher.  And when sometimes he's a little too strong because the adrenaline is going early, he elevates some pitches, they are a little flat and gets himself in a little bit of a jam.
As then he settle the down and tires out a little bit, he becomes, I don't want to say unhittable by any means, but he becomes very, very tough to hit.  He's very sharp.  The thing that's so special about him and a lot of our guys, the fact that when they hit some adversity or things don't go well, they have the composure to continue to battle, and eventually settle down.
You saw that on, what was it, Friday night with Kevin.  Wasn't real good.  We found a way to get through.  Drasen struggled a little bit the first inning or so, found a way to settle down and was just outstanding the rest of the way.

Q.  Who will start tomorrow?
DAN HARTLEB:  John Kravetz will start tomorrow.  Stick with our same order.

Q.  Impressive baserunning in that fifth inning, was key, not only just aggressiveness but being smart and getting good reads.  How much does that play into your success offensively?
DAN HARTLEB:  It always plays into our success.  We like to put pressure on people.  But our guys are smart enough to know when to run and when not to.  Going first to third, in that inning when we scored, was crucial.  We had the right baserunners on base that can move a little bit and that makes a difference.
But baserunning has been very, very good for us.  And any time the defense is thrown to maybe the wrong base, at times we've been able to move the back runner‑up and score multiple runs that way.

Q.  Like you to respond to something that the Notre Dame pitcher said.  He was talking about going through your lineup and he said the key is to just make sure nobody is on when Kerian hits a double.  What do you have to say about that?
DAN HARTLEB:  Well, it helps, I'm sure.  We've been very, very good the entire year because it's a new person every day.  You know, David Kerian has had a great year.  You look at his numbers, they are better than everybody's on the team.  But if you look at the game‑winning hits and the number of people that have come through in clutch situations, it's one through nine, and David is one of those nine.
Today, I guess I can refute that, because we had a runner on first and he doubled and nobody scored.  So I guess Smoyer was wrong on that one.  But David has done a great job.  You do hope that we have runners in scoring position when he's up, but if not, somebody else is going to take care of business for us.

Q.  Can you imagine being in a better position, being 2‑0, not having used a relief pitcher yet?
DAN HARTLEB:  Nope.  Couldn't have drawn it up any better.  And again, our guys, this isn't anything new for us.  We have gone into a lot of Game3s in series in this same situation, because of our starting pitching, because of the aggressiveness that we have, the way that we have taken care of business from an offensive standpoint.
We are in a good position but it's not going to be easy.  We still have at least one tough game, hopefully not two, but one tough game to get through and we'll see how that turns out and move on and see when the next game is.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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