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June 22, 2015

Kevin Doherty

Connor Jones

Brian O'Connor


Vanderbilt 5 - Virginia 1

THE MODERATOR: Representing Virginia, head coach Brian O'Connor, starting pitcher Connor Jones and left fielder Kevin Doherty. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH O'CONNOR: Yeah. That was certainly a great ballgame there. For the first six innings certainly a pitchers' duel -- Connor and Carson really were buckling down and making a lot of big pitches. I was really proud there of Connor, and I thought he really battled and gave it his best out there and gave us a chance. Certainly there in the sixth and seventh inning, Vanderbilt was able to punch a few through and open the game up a little bit. But from their standpoint, Carson Fulmer certainly was tremendous. He pitched the bottom of the zone, did a nice job of changing speeds when we did get a chance to get a few guys on, just didn't allow us to get that big hit and certainly he's worthy of all the accolades that he's received and he's a tremendous competitor. But I'm proud of our guys. We've been in this situation before this year. Certainly we were in this situation going into Saturday against Florida, that if you win, you get to continue your season on, if you don't, it's over. So this team has handled that kind of adversity all year long, and I would imagine tomorrow night would be no different.


Q. Kevin, looking at Fulmer, what did you kind of think of his performance? What was he doing? And what adjustments did you guys try to make to kind of counter him a little bit?
KEVIN DOHERTY: No, he did a great job of starting off with the breaking ball for a strike. To me, he started me off with fastballs, which I knew just to get right after him if I was going to see fastballs in the zone. But through Kenny and the middle of our lineup, he did a phenomenal job of getting ahead with the breaking ball and then working in from there. But he did a great job with all of his pitches.

Q. Connor, the Vanderbilt lineup obviously has a lot of threats. And you got through what was kind of the teeth of that in the sixth inning and got to Toffey -- maybe a freshman who, I don't know if you're expecting him to be able to come up with a hit like that. But what was your approach to pitching him in that situation with two on and two out?
CONNOR JONES: I was obviously going to try to get ahead in the count early. But I was going to try to get after him. It's not like there's a place to put him or anything. I thought I made a pretty good pitch, and he just got ahold of it. And you've got to credit him for that. He squared up and hit it well, and unfortunately it found a hole for us. But credit him. He squared up and got a hold of it pretty good.

Q. Brian, were you in this situation last year after Game 1, you came back with Brandon and he gave you that complete game. Who do you hand the ball to tomorrow?
COACH O'CONNOR: I don't know yet, Jeff. Coach Kuhn and I will certainly talk this evening and decide what the right thing to do is. It will not be Brandon Waddell. But we'll decide. We've got some good options and we're certainly going to need to piece it together tomorrow. We knew that coming into this three-game series that that was going to be the case. So I don't really know right now.

Q. Brian, kind of echoing off that, obviously you used Josh tonight, how much of an option will he be tomorrow starting or out of the bullpen?
COACH O'CONNOR: I think he'll be a little bit more of an option tomorrow than he would have been tonight coming out of the pen. I don't anticipate him being an option to start. I think it will be somewhat limited with him tomorrow.

Q. Brian, kind of the follow-up before of Ro Coleman, Will Toffey got the hit. How tough is it to get through the entire lineup when it doesn't seem like there's a weak point in Vanderbilt's order?
COACH O'CONNOR: I thought Connor did a great job there for five innings of making those big pitches against a good lineup. I think what makes Vanderbilt good from an offensive standpoint, they have three guys there in the middle of the lineup that have proven that they can hit the ball out of the ballpark. They're athletic. They have five guys in their lineup that I would consider one-runners, which are very, very good runners. And that puts pressure on you. They've got a lot of guys that can steal a base throughout the lineup. That said, Connor was close to being able to execute it to get us through 6 or 7. But they did a nice job. They're tough. They're competitive at the plate. You have to make your pitches.

Q. Connor, seemed like you had some success mixing I guess four different pitches tonight. What was your approach against those hitters and what do you think you could pass on to the rest of the staff here going forward?
CONNOR JONES: Personally I always just try to go right after guys. But I felt really confident in my split tonight. I thought that was really good. I kind of struggled to find my slider for a while, but it came around. But the guys moving forward, you've got to go right after them, and you can't help them out by falling behind in counts and stuff like that. You've got to get right after them and don't let them beat you.

Q. Kevin, when you're going that ninth inning, you have done this a lot before. When you kind of get that run and you start to gain some momentum at all or did this feel different than any other times in this tournament?
KEVIN DOHERTY: No, it felt just getting traffic on the bases. We did a great job of that and Jack Gerstenmaier doing a great job with his hit to score the run. But unfortunately their pitcher made some really clutch pitches, sliders out of the zone that I've chased on -- got us on. But he did a great job of managing with men on. And I think previously sometimes they leave pitches up and we'd create more traffic and you kind of keep going.

Q. Brian, I guess looking at Carson Fulmer, he's a guy you've seen a couple times in your career. I guess putting your baseball fan hat on here, what's your impression of the guy just overall, after facing him twice in your career?
COACH O'CONNOR: I'm impressed. I saw Carson pitch in high school and he's continued to develop. I like his competitive spirit. Certainly he's going to come at you and give it his best. He's aggressive. He's certainly proven that he can make big pitches. So you can see why I think maybe he's won 13 or 14 ballgames and you can see why he had success here in Omaha last year and had success this year. So I would imagine that the guy's going to be pitching for a long, long time.

Q. Brian, Ernie made a couple of big-time plays in the field tonight. Did you think he would have the impact defensively that he's had this year at the beginning of the year?
COACH O'CONNOR: Well, when we recruited Ernie we thought he was a really athletic player. Five days before the season I didn't know that he'd make an impact for us defensively in center field. And here he is playing great defense at second base. This guy, when we turned him into a center fielder five days before the season started and played in center field for a number of games early on until we got a little bit healthier and were able to move him to second base. I like Ernie. He's aggressive at the plate. He is very athletic defensively, and so he'll continue to improve and he's certainly been very, very clutch for us here in the postseason.

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