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June 22, 2016

JC Cloney

Jay Johnson

Cameron Ming

Jared Oliva

Omaha, Nebraska

Arizona - 3, UC Santa Barbara - 0

THE MODERATOR: We'll have a statement from Coach Johnson and then open it up for questions for the student-athletes, and then we'll have Coach Johnson again.

Jay, an overview, please.

COACH JOHNSON: First off, I want to congratulate Coach Checketts and UC Santa Barbara on an amazing season. To get here, the road that they did, is impressive as it gets. And a lot of respect for him over a long period of time. It's a first-class program, and just want to congratulate them.

As far as tonight, what an effort. And it starts with these three guys right here. JC was outstanding. We're not in the College World Series without him. We're not in the NCAA Tournament without him. The quality wins that he has had this year have been special. And I don't think we've had a performance that good all year that he gave us tonight.

Character off the charts. His last outing was a little bumpy. I think he's only had two bumpy ones this year. And both times he's responded in a Hall of Fame manner.

As far as Jared, we mentioned it yesterday, he's not as good a player as he's going to be. And you're watching it evolve right in front of your eyes here in Omaha. Very proud of him.

And then the last outs of the game are always the toughest to get. And there's a reason Cameron is in the game in a Regional final at the end, in both games at the end and the Super Regional and all three games here in Omaha.

So very proud of our team. Very proud of these three guys. And wish it was Friday right now.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. JC, what was so effective for you today? It seemed like those guys just couldn't get anything going against you.
JC CLONEY: I think it was mixing and matching. The changeup was real good today. Just working in and out with the fastball. Kind of sliders to lefties, changeups to righties, just trying to really let the fastball tail on them. And so hit the big part of the barrel, let it tail off, hit the end. But other than that, just mixing and matching.

Q. JC, were you more motivated than usual because of what happened the last time you pitched?
JC CLONEY: I don't know about more motivated than usual. Coach Johnson has been talking about the Super Bowls all year. So for me it was to go out give my best effort. And at the end of the day, the results will set themselves.

I moved past Lafayette the day after once we won it and we were heading to Starkville. And it was behind me and I knew I needed to do whatever they needed me to do in Starkville. And I didn't get to pitch there, but winning the first two was probably the best thing we've done all year.

So if I don't have to pitch and we win the first two, I'm real happy about that.

Q. Cameron, what a job you did. Take us through facing Bush in the ninth inning representing the tying run and just how dangerous a hitter he is and what you were able to do against him.
CAMERON MING: Yeah, he's a real good hitter. And he's a big power guy. And you watch their game against Louisville, and they had a big-time comeback. So you think about that immediately, just because he's going to try to tie it with one swing.

And so I had a mound visit from Coach Lawn, and he pretty much told me he's going to hit one out so you gotta keep the ball down. And that was my main goal, either two sliders at the knees, one he took, two that he swung at. So, yeah, it's pretty nerve-racking, because he's a big dude.

But just keep the ball down.

Q. JC, there have been some pretty phenomenal pitching performances here in the last week. Two from a couple of your teammates. Wonder, just given the ballpark, the wind condition, did that give you confidence knowing what other guys had done? Did it impact at all the way you approached the start tonight?
JC CLONEY: It didn't really impact how we approached it. This ballpark's a lot like Hi Corbett in the way it's laid out. So for us it almost felt like we were pitching at home. And based off what Dalbec and Banny have done, I just want to go out and kind of match them. All year that's kind of what we've done is the Friday night guy will set the level, and the next two guys just have to either reach it or go beyond it, so...

Q. Jared, you've got four RBIs in this series. What's been different for you here in the College World Series, if anything, up at the plate?
JARED OLIVA: I'm just more relaxed. The last month or so come in more developed as a hitter, just trying to stay relaxed, not trying to do too much. It sounds that simple, but stick to my game plan, basically, and whatever happens happens. It's out of my control. Control is getting a good pitch to hit, good swing on it. And so for us it just kind of happens.

Q. Jared, does it always make it easier for a hitter in a very tough situation, in a ballpark like this, when you just watch the first run scored, does it make it easier to relax, stand up there knowing at least you got one in the bank?
JARED OLIVA: Yeah, you could say that. Aguilar put up a good at-bat. And getting the run definitely helps, getting the first run across the board.

But it doesn't really change how I feel up there. I'm still trying to stay relaxed and just waiting for a fastball. And he gave it to me in my zone, and I jumped all over it.

Q. Cameron, you've been in so many high-pressure situations in this postseason and you faced elimination before. What's it feel like when you're running out there on the mound in those situations, and has it gotten easier just the repetition of doing it?
CAMERON MING: Yeah, I would say it's getting easier. You just kind of have to not think. I just don't think. And you just know that if you execute your pitches, good things are going to happen.

And so I put the drama to the side and just pretty much just know that I'm going to hit my spot and let the rest carry out.

Q. Jared, what was the pitch that you hit for the home run? And for Cameron, can you just talk about the rally mustaches?
JARED OLIVA: I had a first pitch fastball. First at-bat felt -- saw his fastball good, and I was on time. Two out to right, but I knew was ready. Got my timing down. And I was sitting on one location, one pitch, and sure enough he gave it to me, and just tried to put a good swing on it.

CAMERON MING: The rally mustaches were started by Zach Gibbons. All credit goes to him. I saw him in the hotel lobby, and he had a nice mustache going. I said, wow, I want to be a part of it.

So ever since then I went back to my room and trimmed it up, and then other people hopped on board. I started recruiting. And after that, sure enough, we had a pretty solid amount of dudes come in with rally mustaches.

Q. Jared, as big as this park plays and as good as JC was pitching, after your home run, how comfortable are you and the guys on the bench with a 3-0 lead?
JARED OLIVA: We know how good this pitching staff is that we have. And we know we get one run in, that could be enough. You have them on three, especially early in the game, definitely puts us a little more at ease I guess.

But I know ultimately they've got to execute their pitches against a tough team, Santa Barbara. But we're confident in our pitching staff we can put up two, three runs early in the ballgame like that that sure enough we'll come out victorious.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Pitching and defense wins games. You guys are pitching exceptionally well this postseason, particularly in this World Series, and defensively tonight you were absolutely outstanding. Can you talk about your infield defense, especially up the middle, and how well those two guys played?
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, we were probably about 35 games into the season, maybe 30, and we made a decision to settle on Louis Boyd had to play shortstop every day and Cody Ramer second base. The amount of good pitchers in the Pac-12, seems like everybody is running out a good guy, Friday, Saturday Sunday, everybody has a good closer. And it actually provides you with the environment that you get here.

But pitching and defense thing, you just have to take care of the ball. It's talked about over and over again. Everybody likes offense. Everybody likes scoring runs. But the reality is the guys that are on the mound are on the biggest scholarships, and they're paid to get guys out. And you gotta have it.

And the defense part of it plays a big role in how well you actually pitch. And so Louis and Cody are as good as anybody in college baseball right now as far as making the routine play, turning the double play, and have just really solidified the whole deal for us.

Q. Jay, what does it say about the character of your team that you've now been able to win four consecutive elimination games?
COACH JOHNSON: I think it's awesome. I think it shows toughness. To me our character has been on display, like I said, from the first pitch of the season. There isn't a challenge that this team has not met. And the byproduct of that toughness is, you know, they can totally, as crazy as it sounds, ignore the noise, push away the circumstance and focus on the play.

And we have good players, don't get me wrong. We have six guys that were drafted. But our team has an elite mindset. And I'm very proud of them for that because that doesn't happen overnight. It's taken some work, and they've done a great job at staying in the moment and playing it one pitch at a time.

Q. What was the basis of your decision to start Ryan Haug today, and what was your level of confidence in him given that he hadn't really played very much since over a month because of injuries and other reasons?
COACH JOHNSON: Kelly's batting average against left-handed pitchers I believe is .143. Does that sound right? Watching him on film, he carved through a good Washington team and Xavier in the Regional. We saw it. I just didn't like the feel of it.

Ryan is an elite defensive catcher, just like Cesar. We're fortunate having both of those guys. And I thought he looked good in training. What gets lost to people that don't show up at practice every day, we're trying to develop guys, and development happens at different times.

He's been beat up. He's been hurt. He's gotten healthy, and he's a good athlete and has a live body and he's a hundred percent ready to go now. So I just like the matchup up a little bit better.

Q. Were there some nervous moments in that dugout when Austin came up? This is big-time college baseball at its highest level. And was it almost apropos to have him come up and let's see who wins this one?
COACH JOHNSON: That was part of the reason I made the pitching change even with a 1-0 count, the hitter before -- I knew who was sitting there. I knew how many runs we were ahead by. And I know what I saw over the last five games or the five games leading up to this, as far as Austin Bush.

It's tough to get elite power hitters in college baseball. There's nobody as scary as that guy. And he's going to be a great player next year at Santa Barbara, and he's going to be a great pro.

Q. We've had a couple of coaches come in here the last couple of nights and talk about how a 3-0 deficit is almost insurmountable or it seems like a bigger lead in this ballpark because of the way it plays. From what you're just saying, it probably wasn't that comfortable to you, but runs are at such a premium here. Does it seem like 3-0 or even 2-0 is a bigger lead than just a number indicates?
COACH JOHNSON: I don't think there's any doubt about it. Again, we try to really stay in the moment, take the scoreboard -- turn the scoreboard off, play the pitch.

With that being said, I think there's something that's lost here in just talking about the ballpark. You're talking about the eight teams in the country that are playing the best, and the only way you're here is if you're really pitching.

And the pitching in this tournament is at an elite level right now. I don't know where they are on draft lists or anything like that, but I've got several guys that can really get people out. Oklahoma State does. Santa Barbara does. TCU does. Coastal Carolina does. Texas Tech. Florida. Didn't they have like 12 guys drafted eight in the top 100 or something like that, most of them pitchers.

You throw this elite pitching into this ballpark, it's going to be 3-2, 3-0, 2-1, 1-0. I guess it's not all that surprising.


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