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June 20, 2015

Brian O'Connor

Josh Sborz

Kenny Towns

Brandon Waddell


Virginia 5 - Florida 4

THE MODERATOR: Representing Virginia, head coach Brian O'Connor, starting pitcher Brandon Waddell, third baseman Kenny Towns and relief pitcher Josh Sborz. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH O'CONNOR: You all are going to think I'm just hitting repeat here. But this team has, in this postseason run, just been amazing. The toughness and the resiliency of this group has been really, really impressive, the heart that they've continued to show is a lot of fun to watch. And this game is kind of a small microcosm of what our postseason's been like in that Florida is a tremendous opponent. I'll tell you, what they have coming back next year, they're going to be really, really good. And we just feel fortunate to have found a way to win. And our guys just wouldn't quit. They would go up and we'd battle back and find a way to drive in a run or two. And the pitching plan that we had discussed over the last 24 hours fortunately worked. We were going to try to get five or six out of Brandon Waddell and then turn it over to Josh Sborz. And both of those guys did a terrific job and just really excited that we have another opportunity to play and another opportunity to compete for a national championship.


Q. Brian, with how Kenny's been in the postseason, in that situation, bases loaded in the seventh, do you start to expect him to get it done?
COACH O'CONNOR: He's gotten so many big hits for us. Kenny's played a lot of games in our uniform in four years. He's come through so many times, especially in this postseason. There's a lot of guys you'd want up, but certainly you know the pride that he has in this uniform, the pride that he has in this program, and he's going to go up there and get his money's worth and he's going to be prepared to give himself a chance to succeed. So certainly the three runs that he drove in tonight were crucial and everybody has a lot of confidence in him when he steps up.

Q. Josh, this is an incredibly good lineup that Florida has. You've gone six scoreless innings against them this week. Particularly tonight, what were you able to do to keep them off balance?
JOSH SBORZ: When you pitch a team like that you've just got to manage. I mean, they're so good at hitting that you've just got to try to spread out their hits as best as possible. In that first inning I gave them that extra base that allowed them to score with a walk. And I think the key is really slowing it down and just trying to defend your way out of things.

Q. Brandon, you were pitching on four days' rest, which is less than you usually get. What were you hoping to do with this start and how close did you come to kind of meeting your objective?
BRANDON WADDELL: I mean, I really approached it the same as any start. I wasn't going to use shorter rest as an excuse for something else that could happen. So I mean going into it I took it as a normal start. I truly wanted the ball for the game. So, you know, to go out there and go five innings -- kind of like Josh said, they're a really, really good hitting team. They take advantage of mistakes. Just had to grind through it. Try to spread out the hits, same thing, manage it. But like I say the expectation going into it wasn't any different.

Q. Kenny, with your postseason track record, were you surprised at all that they intentionally walked Matt in front of you? Obviously you've been having a huge game, he's having a huge postseason too. Take us through that and obviously the at-bat to get the sac fly?
KENNY TOWNS: When you think about it it's a smart play. It's to set up the double play. And obviously Matt's been a very dangerous hitter and helps us out a lot. So I wouldn't take any offense to it or think anything of it. I was just happy to be able to get an opportunity to drive in another run.

Q. Kenny, Coach talked about it with the way this has been for you guys in the postseason all the tight games, what is it about this team that allows you guys to keep your composure and everything when they're answering you guys hitting these long home runs and everything, what about you guys allows you to keep it together in games like this?
KENNY TOWNS: I think we're a really tough team. We're really resilient. We've done a good job of, like, when teams put some runs up on us, we come back and return the favor and give ourselves a chance to win some games. But we've been in a lot of tight ballgames, and I think we just kind of have gotten not comfortable, we just feel confident in those situations especially with some of the guys we throw out there like Sborz and Waddell. So I think everything is just kind of clicking for us in those games and it's a testament how resilient we are.

Q. For the players, everyone kind of thought last year was the year for you guys. I mean, you're preseason number one, you're number one all year long. Here you are sneaking in as a 3 seed into the regional. You're back here. How much do you think the experience last year of reaching the finals, does it make it easier when you got here more comfortable?
BRANDON WADDELL: I think it's definitely having that experience under our belt with a lot of guys in the locker room is huge. It's something that you know we knew what we were going after. Our expectations inside the locker room from year to year haven't changed. But I think especially once we got to Omaha and going through the postseason, having guys that have that experience, you can kind of help the younger guys especially with how young our team was this year. So the experience definitely came in handy, to be able to kind of tell them, this is what you're going to expect, this is what you're going to experience. So to have that and to push that through is kind of comforting with it.

JOSH SBORZ: I would say the only other thing is like having all that experience, we're able to pass it down to the freshmen, where we're allowing them to stay relaxed and keep them focused on the things that are important. And just kind of how it fed off.

Q. Kenny, when you got that sac fly in the seventh, given the way Josh was pitching, did you have a feeling like that's the one we needed, that this is going to be enough to hold it up?
KENNY TOWNS: Yeah, absolutely. Especially the way he's pitching. Like you said. You've just got to get that one-run lead however you can. But just having a guy like that you feel confident just getting that one and taking the lead.

Q. Brian, does the fact that this kind of postseason run seemed unlikely going into the ACC tournament, make it more special for you to be heading back to the finals?
COACH O'CONNOR: They're all special, certainly. But this one's different. We've been really fortunate in this program to be in Omaha four out of the last seven years. I think we just finished our 11th game in two years in this ballpark. So, like what these guys have alluded to before, they know what to expect here. But certainly how this team has navigated and what they've been through to get here is really, really special and memorable. There's so many, over the last three weeks, the times you can think back to, whether it be you're playing in the regional championship against SC, and we're down a bunch of runs early and we battle back and find a way and we get a couple of guys that come out of the bullpen that do the job for the team and give us a chance to win. And certainly the wins against Maryland and this one. So this group has a lot of pride. They have a lot of pride in playing for each other. They're going to give it everything they've got. They're going to be prepared. And it's been a lot of fun to coach.

Q. You've kind of led this whole kind of loose feeling throughout this tournament. You've won seven straight games until yesterday. What was your feeling entering the ballpark? Was it tightened up at all or was it kind of that same loose nature that got you to this point?
COACH O'CONNOR: I didn't get a feeling at all from these guys that they were uptight at all. We talked a lot about, hey, we have another opportunity to play another game and they've earned that right through what they've done. And we had a brief team meeting today at 12:00 that took about three minutes, and it was pretty clear the direction that we were going to go. And they came out and were having fun and competing for each other. I don't think there was any nerves at all in any of them. And that makes it a lot more enjoyable.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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