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NCAA BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP REGIONALS: CHAMPAIGN


May 31, 2015


Greg Lovelady

Mitch Roman

Jack Van Horn


CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS

Wright State ¬Ė 4
Notre Dame - 0


GREG LOVELADY:¬† You know, it's been a really memorable day.¬† For me, I started this journey 11 years ago, and we've done some really exciting things here in that time.¬† Beating No.1 teams in the country, this is our fourth regional.¬† We've had some close calls and lost to an eventual National Champion, extra‑inning loss and been right there.
To see this group set out an a mission to do something special to elevate the tradition and to finally see the reward through the process of 11 years has been unbelievable to be a part of.   And I'm so proud of this group for everything that they have done; to come out today and do what they did and have to play a day/night doubleheader, and win both games against two unbelievable opponents, is really, really memorable.
I get into this‑‑ I get into this job to see‑‑ I had a really blessed career and I got a lot of great memories, and I do this so that I can try to give the kids the type of memories that I had.¬† And to give them a platform and an opportunity to make memories that are going to last them a lifetime.
To see somebody like Jack Van Horn, a former walk‑on, do something that he's not accustomed to doing, and to do it so well:¬† In front of his family and his teammates and all his fans, something that I know he will never forget; it's something that I know that I personally will never, ever forget.
Again, I'm making more memories because of these kids, and I'm so blessed to have such a good group of people to work with, to work for, and the most unbelievable group of men that have elevated the tradition of what this program stands for, what it's been about, and what the future is going to be.
And I can't say enough about what Jack did today, and I'm proud of him.  Had a big birthday yesterday and an even bigger game today.  I'm proud of everybody.  It was an unbelievable game.  We did a lot of great things, made some great defensive plays and got some big hits, and you can't say enough about what Jack did.

Q.  When Coach came in here after the first game, he said he didn't know who was going to start.  When did you know?
JACK VAN HORN:¬† So the first game ended and then about seven minutes after, Parker came up to me and says, "You got it, dude."¬†¬†¬† So I guess‑‑
GREG LOVELADY:  That was before the first game before we played, the first game before us.
JACK VAN HORN:  Yeah, it was right after Notre Dame lost.  Like five minutes after Notre Dame lost.

Q.  I'm sure you're a confident guy, but were you surprised yourself with what you did?
JACK VAN HORN:¬† Usually I have a five‑pitch mix and nothing was working, except for one.¬† I throw like my signature cutter.¬† First guy I threw a strike to, and then four straight balls and Love came out to me and made sure I was trusting the process.¬† It's all about mental game and he's right.¬† I was kind of lacking confidence when I was up there.
I kind of got into a rhythm.  Had to make sure I was using my legs and drive towards the mound.  That's really the only pitch that I had confidence in, though.  Just kept sticking to it and they couldn't touch it.

Q.  When is the last time you've gone eight?
JACK VAN HORN:¬† Maybe an extra‑innings game in high school.¬† It's been a while.

Q.  Any ice?
JACK VAN HORN:  I took it off right before I came in here.

Q.  Huge game today offensively.
MITCH ROMAN:¬† It was big‑‑ got us in a big way.¬† It's kind of easy when your pitcher is hitting all the spots and just going out there and proving whatWright State really is.¬† Just had a big hit.¬† That's all you've got to do.¬†

Q.¬† You guys were pretty vocal from the get‑go.¬† Could you feel it building as the game went along and inning and inning of zeros?
MITCH ROMAN:  Jack going out there and getting big K's.  Hyped all of us up.  Hyped me up.  I'm an energetic guy.  I lead; he leads and it's the way we go about it?
JACK VAN HORN:  Having him back there was really reassuring.  He would always tell me, hit your spots and he'd pound his chest and it would just jack me up for the next pitch.

Q.¬† Were you peeking in the dugout‑‑
JACK VAN HORN:¬† I saw guys out in the pen before the inning had started.¬† I was pretty sure that Love was going to let me‑‑ I think I gave up four hits to righties.¬† Usually I'm a righty specialist.¬† I figured I could get the out and ground ball to Timm and we got him.

Q.  How many did you have here?
GREG LOVELADY:  I have an older sister, Suzanne.  And then my mom and dad, Mike and Anne.

Q.¬† How old‑‑
JACK VAN HORN:¬† 23.¬† And I red‑shirted.¬† So I'm going to be 24 next year.

Q.  Do you prefer starting or relieving?
JACK VAN HORN:¬† First time I started was the elimination game in the conference championship, and then an elimination game‑‑ I'd prefer to lead, but I've only done that for three or four years.¬† I started in high school like everybody else.¬† I'm going to leave it up to Love next year on what I do.
MITCH ROMAN:  Don't tell everyone he's the worst pitcher on the team.

Q.  Where are you guys at now emotionally after the two wins today?
JACK VAN HORN:  Psyched.  We're just blessed to be here.
MITCH ROMAN:  We're going to battle.  This team just never quits.  Something about us.

Q.  You guys going to have any trouble coming down in time to play tomorrow?
MITCH ROMAN:  No, we'll still be up there.
GREG LOVELADY:  Good job guys.

Q.¬† The shutout innings from your starters today‑‑
GREG LOVELADY:  You know, we went back and forth a lot trying to figure out what the matchup was.  Obviously the wind blowing in against those guys was a big factor, as big and strong as they are.
But you know, we just felt like Jack had done this before.  We started the elimination game last week in the conference tournament, last year 2013 he started a big inning and gave us three or four innings and really the plan was to try to get three innings out of him, maybe four, try to get through the lineup twice.
People usually figure him out and kind of starts to get tired, starts leaving balls up.  But it's amazing what adrenaline does.  We thought we would get to Trapino and then Elliott and let Elliott throw three or four innings.
Getting the first batter, looked a little nervous. So I went out there to calm him down.¬† Also, he didn't tell you about this, but he had a groin problem and we could see him stretching it.¬† I was really okay to go with Trapino a little bit earlier, and he just started to get in that groove, and they really struggled picking it up.¬† That cutter is really, really gross.¬† I know he threw changeup that was super elevated.¬† I don't think he threw his curveball at all today.¬† Not sure if he threw a straight fastball or not.¬† But he was throwing cutters away and starting it off the plate and cutting back over the corner; that they were getting called strikes and throwing cutters in and jamming them.¬† Did a great job, Jordan and Kyle and Parker put our infielders where they needed to be.¬† They hit a ton of balls right at guys, not hard balls; but balls that we were playing a different position might have been seeing‑eye singles or whatnot.
We were just really well prepared.¬† The assistant coaches did a phenomenal job.¬† And Jack can execute pitches.¬† You can put guys where you want them to go based on how you're going to pitch guys but if they can't put the ball where you're asking them to put it, then that defense becomes moot.¬† You try to throw a cutter in and you've got your second baseman in the 4‑hole and you throw one over the middle of the plate and he hits a ground ball two steps to our left of normal second base, he can't get it now because he's playing in the hole, then that's a problem.¬† But we didn't have to worry about that.
The Jack, the adrenaline, I'm sure, obviously the moment, but he's on my leadership council; he believes in the mental game more than anybody, and once he was kind of rolling.  It was just pitch to pitch and executing and guys played great defense behind him, made plays and we got the big hits.  It's just amazing.  Like I said, it's one of the biggest performances I've ever seen on the mound and we needed it.
You saw what they did to the first game to us offensively and to shut him down the way he did is phenomenal.  We kind of wanted to take him out but you really couldn't.  How do you take a guy out that's giving up two hits and six innings or three hits in seven innings and whatnot.  It's like, man, let's just let it ride.  He says he feels good.  They haven't figured him out yet, so let's just keep throwing him out there until they do, and we had Andrew to go if we needed him.  It got to the point where it was starting to get a little bit dicey and I felt a little uneasy, so we went to Andrew and let him shut the door.

Q.  Were you tempted to go to the pen earlier?
GREG LOVELADY:  Yeah, very; we were tempted to go probably in the seventh and the eighth.  We talked about it back and forth.  But we just felt like he rose to the occasion.
It's hard to take somebody out‑‑ when they put that on the line and when they are able to do those types of things, it's really hard to say, okay, like we are going to go to somebody else now.¬† He deserved to get the ball and keep the ball.¬† Until I felt like he was losing it, I didn't feel like I had the right to take him out. .

Q.¬† The decision, four‑run lead‑‑ if that had been a one‑ or two‑run lead?
GREG LOVELADY:  Yeah, definitely, because you never know.  To throw as many pitches, you know it's going to go at some time.  I always tell Parker, especially with the bullpen that we have and especially with Andrew at the end of the game, I would rather take him out a hit or two early than a hit or two late.
In a one‑run game, I don't want to give up like we did in the first game, I don't want to give up a home run to tie the game.¬† It was going to be harder to do today, but I didn't want to give up back‑to‑back doubles and tie the game and have my closers warming up in the bullpen.¬† The more runs we scored obviously, the more leeway he got and able to do it.¬† But he proved that it didn't matter what the score was; he was going to go out and finish as much as he could.

Q.  Inaudible.
GREG LOVELADY:¬† Yeah, maybe.¬† I don't usually go out there.¬† But I just felt, you know, again, I didn't feel like‑‑ or he just was not in the right mental place and I'm the one that really teaches the mental game and stresses the mental game.
So I felt like, hey, if this is not an injury or if it is an injury, I want to go out and make sure he's okay and look in his eye and make sure if it's something wrong, then I need to get somebody else in there.
And if he says he's fine, which I believe Jack, then I need to make sure I get him back to being present and focused on the process and winning pitches.  So I just went out there and again, I think that's more so luck.  But it's just him buying in and believing in what we're doing.

Q.  Inaudible.
GREG LOVELADY:¬† Again, I've talked about it a lot this week.¬† My lineup, I've got different guys every week that show up.¬† You know, Fucci has been hot and he did nothing today.¬† Michael Timm has not been doing a whole lot; and Gabe comes up with a huge two‑out knock, and sets the tone for Mitch's at‑bat, and Mitch really hasn't ‑‑ and he didn't do much this morning and picks us up today.
So my order changes a lot.   It changed today just going off of my gut and who I felt like was hot and better matchups and where I wanted guys in the lineup.  Again I've had, Roman has his, one, two, three, four, five; and he hit, seven, eight, nine to start the season.
We move guys around a lot just on matchups and who is hot because I believe in all the guys.¬† John really had a horrible start offensively to the season.¬† But he's played an unbelievable third base.¬† He's one of the best third baseman we've had and I think you can get confidence from that.¬† I know that he's going to be present and he's going to try to give it the best at‑bats and win pitches as much as he can.
So you can't‑‑ I trust guys if they go out there and they are doing that.¬† If I believe that they are present and I believe that they are trying to win pitches, then it's hard for me to take guys out.¬† If they are up there and I feel like they are not where they need to be mentally, then it's a lot easier for me to take them out.¬† He's been phenomenal defensively and he goes out there and gives me a great effort, and I believe every time that we need a big hit, if he's up there, I believe that he can do it.¬† And everyone on our team has continued to prove that to be right.

Q.¬† February 28 and March 1, you've got to do that tomorrow‑‑ I guess how do you go about that?
GREG LOVELADY:  You go out, win the first pitch, and try to continue to do that and win the first one, and then we'll got out and worry about that when we get there.  But we can't win two unless we can win one. 
We'll be excited.¬† We'll get some sleep tonight.¬† It will be a new day tomorrow.¬† It's the same game again.¬† We've been used to playing for championships.¬† We've been in this situation.¬† We've played top‑ranked teams and beat them.
So guys are not going to be scared.¬† They are not going to be overwhelmed in the moment.¬† We are going to go out there, believe in the process, believe in our mental game, believe in our abilities, try to win the first pitch.¬† We understand that we're playing a really, really, really good team.¬† But we had an opportunity to sweep the University of Miami and win two‑out‑of‑three from Missouri State and we were six inches away from taking from two‑out‑of‑three Ole Miss.
We know how good they are.  We understand what that competition is like.  We embrace that.  That's what this program has been predicated on and built on, and we go out and do what we do every week.  And again, the way the ball falls, the baseball goes, we'll let the baseball gods handle their business and we'll do our best to try to win the game.

Q.  Inaudible.
GREG LOVELADY:¬† I mean, it confirmed that they deserve a six‑seed.¬† It confirmed that they are probably the best team in the Big Ten.¬† It confirmed that they got an unbelievable coaching staff, great players.¬† The guy that threw today, that's a big time performance.¬† But I also look at them and they are human.¬† We'll go out there tomorrow and do our thing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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